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A Play in Four Acts 


A Play in One Act 







Some of these studies were published in 
the Nation, Manchester Guardian, Daily 
News, Sunday Chronicle, Odd Volume, the 
New Statesman, and the Irish Independent. 
I am indebted to the Editors of these 
journals for permission to print them here. 
ST. J. G. E. 





















A Woman A Girl 

A Child 

It is the dark part of a jnorning in February : in a 
little while the sun will break through the black- 
ness and a grey light will creep through the 
window of the living-room in a small house in 
South London, where a Woman, aged beyond 
her years, which are thirty-three, is kneeling at 
a chair. Her hands are clenched together, and 
her eyes are fixed intently on the sky. Her lips 
move slowly and regularly, and sometimes she 
cries out, " Oh, God ! Oh, God ! Oh, God ! " 
There is no other sound in the room, save the 
ticking of a clock. There is silence, and The 
Woman, heating her hands together, cries out 
again, "Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!" 
The door opens, and a Girl, whose age is 
twenty-two, enters, feeling her way in the dark. 

The Girl. Are you there, Jenny ? 
The Woman. Oh, God ! Oh, God ! 
The Girl. Jenny ! 


The Woman. Oh, God ! 

[The Girl reaches The Woman and kneels 
down beside her. 
The Girl. Don't, Jenny ! 
The Woman. Oh ! 

The Girl. It's me ! Lizzie ! Your sister, 
Jenny ! I'm with you, dear. Don't take on 
so ! It's— it's all for the best ! 

[The Girl's voice breaks, and she sobs. 
The Woman. They'll do it ! I know they will ! 
There's no mercy ! 
The Girl. It's hard on you 1 
The Woman. They don't think of me ! [They 
are silent for a few moments.'] What's the time ? 
[The Girl gets up from her knees and feels her 
way towards the fireplace. 
The Girl. It's too dark — I can't see the clock. 
The Woman. Strike a match and see. 

[The Girl strikes a match and looks at the 
The Girl. It's just after seven o'clock. 
The Woman [burying her face in her hands]. 
Oh, God ! Oh, God ! 

The Girl. Sometimes they're saved at the last 

[The Woman docs not reply. She sways before 
the chair and moans piteously. Neither 
speaks. The Girl stands in the centre 
of the room indeterminately ; then she 
breaks out passionately. 


The Girl. Oh, they won't do it ! It 'ud be 
wicked of them to do it ! He never meant any 
harm. It was the drink. 

The Woman. There never was a better man 
when he was sober — wouldn't hurt any one ! 

The Girl. They ought to make allowances ! 
He was sorry after he done it. 

The Woman. They never make allowances ! 

The Girl. The people signed a petition for 
him. His wife signed it, too ! If she could for- 
give, why can't they ? 

The Woman. They never forgive. 

The Girl. They can't take no notice of the 
petition. The clergyman signed it. And the 
Mayor . . . 

The Woman. They'll do it — oh, they'll do it ! 

The Girl. It was in anger he done it ; and 
they're not angry. He didn't know what he was 
doing ; and they do. Oh, it's wicked, it's 
wicked ! It ought not to be allowed ! 

The Woman. Oh ! Oh ! Oh I 

The Girl. Why doesn't some one tell them ? 

The Woman. They wouldn't hsten. [She holds 
up her hand towards the darkness. '\ Oh, God, make 
them listen ! Stop them, oh, God ! Soften their 
hearts ! 

\A Child's voiceHs heard outside the room. 

The Child. Mother ! 

The Woman. They have no hearts to soften ! 

The Child. Mother ! 


The Girl. There's Maggie calling you. 

[The Woman cries convulsively. 
The Child. Mother ! 
The Girl. What is it, dear ? 

[She opens the door, and The Child, in her 
nightdress, is seen standing in the doorway. 
The Child. Is Daddy hanged yet, Aunt Lizzie ? 
[The Girl gathers The Child up in her arms 
and stops her mouth with hysterical kisses. 
The Child. You said he'd be hanged to-day. 
Aunt Lizzie. Is it time yet ? 
The Woman. Oh, God ! Oh, God ! Oh, God ! 
The Girl. Don't, dearie, don't say that ! 
The Child. It's so dark ! Will it hurt him. 
Aunt Lizzie ? 
The Girl. Don't, don't ! 

[The Child climbs out of The Girl's arms 
and goes to her mother. 
The Child. Is he hanged yet, mother ? 
The Woman. No, dear. 

The Child. Aren't they going to, mother ? 
You said they would hang him in the morning, 
and it's the morning now. It is the morning, 
isn't it ? 
The Woman. Oh ! 

The Girl. Mcbbe they'll let him ofi, dear. 
The Child. No, they won't ! I heard a man 
say Daddy 'd be finished to-day ! He said I'd be 
an orphan to-morrow, and it's to-morrow now ! 
Isn't it ? 


The Girl. Yes, dear. 

[It has become lighter and The Woman and 
The Girl ajid The Child are more 
distinctly seen. 

The Child. He did that, and a boy laughed. 
[She makes the motion of a rope being tied 
round the throat, and puts out her tongue 
in the manner of the strangled. 

The Girl. You shouldn't listen to them. 

The Child. Will it be long before he's 
hanged ? 

The Girl. Don't talk Hke that, dearie ! 

The Child. Will it be long ? 

The Girl. Not long, dear. 

The Child. What time will they hang him ? 

The Woman. Oh ! Oh ! Oh ! 

The Girl, Don't, dear ! Your poor mother ! 
Go to bed like a good girl ! 

The Child. I want to stay till Daddy is . . . 

The Girl. Oh, don't, don't, don't ! 

The Child [whimpering]. I don't want to go 
to bed. 

The Woman. Give her to me. 

[The Girl takes The Child in her arms and 
carries her to The Woman. The Child 
kneels beside her mother, who puts her 
arm round her and buries her face in her 

The Child. It's getting hght, mother ! 

The Woman. What's the time ? 


The Girl. It's a quarter to eight. [Her voice 
is dry and hard.] 

The ^yoMAN. A quarter to ! Oh ! Oh ! Oh ! 
[The Woman sobs. The Child fondles her, 
but, obtaining no response, whimpers 
vaguely. The Girl stands passively by 
the fireplace. There is silence for a little 

The Girl. They'll be ready now. 

The Woman. What's that ? 

The Girl. They'll be making preparations. . . . 

The Woman. Oh ! 

The Girl. I saw a picture of it once. . . . 
They strap their arms and legs. . . . 

The Child. Will it hurt him, Aunt Lizzie ? 

The Girl. I wonder what he feels like ! 

The Child. Aunt Lizzie, will it hurt him ? 

The Girl. They'll be standing round him — 
gaping at him ! [She runs frantically to the 
window and beats her hands against the glass.] 
Oh, God ! God ! stop it, stop it ! He's only 
one, and they've got him tied ! Give him a 
chance ! . . . 

The Woman. He'll be dead soon. Oh, my 
man, my man ! 

The Child. I want my father ! 

The Woman [clutching The Child to her 
hysterically]. You'll never see him again. It's 
us as has to bear it. They never think of us ! 

The Girl. It's nearly eight o'clock. 


The Woman. Pray lor your father, dear ! 
The Child. Yes, mother. 

[The Child covers her face with her hands. 
The Girl. To be living now, and dead in a 
minute ! [Passionately.] It's not right, it's not 
right ! It's kilhng ! Murder, murder ! 
The Woman. It's the law ! 
The Child. What '11 I say, mother ? 
The Woman. Just close your eyes, dear, and 

[There is quiet in the room. The Woman and 

The Child kneel beside each other, The 

Child with her face covered with her 

hands, The Woman with her face buried 

in the chair. The Girl stands at the 

window, her hafids strained against the 

glass. The dull boom of a clock is heard 

striking the hour of eight. At the first 

stroke The Woman jumps to her feet and 

runs shrieking to the window. 

The Woman. No, no, no, don't do it ! He's a 

good man, he wouldn't . . . Oh ! [She falls 

weeping to the ground.] 

[The clock continues to boom out the hour of 

eight. But for this and the choked sobs of 

The Woman, there is silence. Presently 

both cease. There is quiet. 

The Child [uncovering her face]. Is he hanged 

yet. Aunt Lizzie ? 

[It becomes light. 



His name was John, and he was left-handed, so 
he was called Clutie John. If you had guessed 
for a hundred years and more you would not have 
guessed what his occupation was. Looking at 
him, you might have thought that he was an 
agricultural labourer or a bricklayer, or any of 
the class of workers who are continually employed 
in the open, for his face had the ruddy, roughened 
aspect of one who is frequently beaten by wind 
and rain and warmed by the sun. His habits, 
too, would have confirmed you in your belief that 
he was an agricultural labourer, for he rose and 
retired early, and his life was conducted with the 
regularity that belongs not to clockwork (for 
which he had a mighty contempt), as men assert, 
but to great natural things. Watches; and all 
time-pieces, of whatsoever kind, were totally dis- 
regarded by him. They were vain human con- 
trivances, no two of which could be trusted to 
say the same thing. The sun was his guide and 
counsellor : when it rose; he rose ; when it set; 
he went to bed ; it ' never deceived him ; it 



needed no regulating, it went neither slow nor 
fast, and it never ran down. 

" Fin'in' things " was Clutie John's occupa- 
tion. Do not misunderstand ; he was not a 
policeman or a private inquiry agent or anything 
remotely resembhng cither one or the other. He 
would not have spied for you had you offered him 
any sum you can imagine as a proper reward for 
such service. He was a clean man and believed 
in minding his own business and leaving other 
people to mind theirs. He did not regard the 
offer of money as an excuse for the performance 
of work which was detestable. " Ye shud do a 
thing;" he would say, " acause ye like doin' it, 
not acause ye 're paid t' do it ! If ye wudden do 
a thing fur nathin' if ye cud, ye shudden do it fur 
pay," which was an admirable aphorism on 
which, strange as it may seem, he constantly 

His occupation literally was that of a finder of 
things. He went out in the morning before other 
men were astir, with a bag slung over his shoulders, 
and a pointed stick in his hand, seeking what he 
could find. The debris of the previous night's 
gathering of men and women in the street was 
not all rubbish ; there were all sorts of trifles 
carelessly dropped by the people which, when 
picked up by Clutie John, could be turned into 
profit. Not all the things found were trifles ; 
some, indeed, were of great value. There was a 


packet of jewellery that he found once, the reward 
for which was considerable. Mostly, however, 
his finds were trifling in themselves. Here a 
sixpence, there a penny or a halfpenny, a glove,. 
a purse (sometimes empty, sometimes not), 
pencils, pens, marbles, umbrellas, and what not. 
These things, discreetly disposed of, were the 
source of Clutie John's small, but regular, income. 

" People is very forgetful," he would say, with 
a little reproach in his tone ; and then, as if to 
make up for the reproach, he would add : " Och, 
well, sure they've a dale to think about, what 
wi' wan thing an' another, an' if they wurn't a 
bit forgetful, it wudden be much o' a living I'd 
be makin'." 

He was a great friend of all the small boys in 
the district. This was partly in the way of 
business, for he sold his " marleys " to them. 
" Boys is more forgetful nor any one," he would 
say, while he pulled a number of marbles out of 
his pockets. " Girls is no good til me. They 
never furget nathin' but hairpins, an' they're 
har'ly worth pickin' up. Wee girls furgets nathin' 
at all. A wud die o' starvation if there wus 
nathin' but wee girls in the wurl." He would 
pause for a moment, and then add merrily : 
" They're the quare wee tories, wee girls ! " 
which is the Irish way of saying that little girls 
are pleasant little rascals. Whenever a boy met 
Clutie John he would cry out to him familiarly. 


" Ha, Clutie John ! " and Clutic John would 
gravely reply, " Ha, wee lad ! " 

" Have ye anny marleys the day ? " the boy 
would say. 

" Ay, A have a brave wee lot ! " Clutie John 
would reply. 

" How many will ye give us fur a ha'penny ? " 
and Clutie John would offer to give two or three 
more for a ha'penny than were given in the shops. 

" It dussen matter whether A give them too 
manny or not," he would say, by way of excuse 
for his lavishness. " Sure, they'll loss them soon 
enough, an' A'll mebbe fin' them, an' sell them 
back to them again. Wee lads is the quare 
lossers ! " 

It was in this manner that Clutie John made 
his living. Whatever happened in the world 
made little difference to him, except in so far as 
it increased his opportunities for finding things. 
Public holidays, all joyful occasions, were strongly 
supported by him. On the morning after such 
days he found much that was good, with less 
difficulty than usual. " They hing thegither, a 
crowd," he would say, " an' ye fin' near all ye 
want wi'out shiftin' about much. They're that 
happy, they furget more aisily nor when they're 
just ordinary ! " Monday morning found him 
making for the lovers' Sunday haunts. " Coortin' 
couples is very furgetful," he would say. " A 
make more out o' them nor A do out o' anny one 


else, except mebbe the wee lads. Bits o' lace 
hankeys an' things that weemen likes t' have 
about them of a Sunday." 

He always spoke of his fellows as if they were 
a different species of being altogether from him- 
self. They were all " furgetful," and Clutie John 
never forgot anything. That in itself was suffi- 
cient to mark him out from them ; but his habits 
of life made it difficult for him to have much 
intercourse of a familiar character with any 
particular person. He knew, and was known by, 
many ; but of all the persons whom he knew, 
none could call him friend. The " wee lads " 
would hold his hand and endeavour to wheedle 
" marleys " out of him, when they were penniless, 
and he would send them away quite happy, 
although they had not succeeded in getting a 
single " marley " from him. Clutie John never 
gave anything away. Secreted in his mind was 
a dreadful fear that a day might come, and that 
quickly, when he would not be able to go out in 
the morning and find things, and all his life was 
a great effort to prepare for that time. He lived 
alone, and cooked his own meals ; he never went 
to a theatre or music-hall, or a church ; in a 
queer odd way of his own he was religious, but 
precisely what he believed no one knew. 

He was easily moved by natural beauty ; he 
would sniff the fresh morning air, not for reasons 
of health (for he hated open windows), but for the 


sheer joy of feeling it in his lungs ; and the sun 
rising from behind the hills and casting its first 
chilly rays on the river always made him stand 
still for awhile and whistle. There were no great 
joys in his life and no great sorrows, his progress 
through the world was smooth and unexhilarating, 
nothing disturbed his equanimity ; an unusually 
large find of " marleys " excited him as little as 
an unusually small find, outwardly at all events, 
for no doubt the secret fear lurking in his mind 
made such things of great moment to him ; but 
on the surface of his life he showed as a simple, 
serene, almost passionless man, for whom such 
things as joys and griefs did not exist. 

When he died, as he did suddenly, he left a 
considerable sum of money. It passed into the 
hands of the State, for he had no kin and had 
made no will. It was odd to think of him scraping 
and saving, not in the least like the conventional 
miser, and at the end all that he had scraped 
together passing from him to the community, 
through whose " forgetfulness " he had made his 
small fortune. 


Michael Cregan and I were walking through 
the Vale of Ovoca, when we came to St. Brigid's 
Well, that was gushing out of a rock. Said I : 
" It's the great thirst I have on me, and I'll take 
a drink." To which Michael replied : " Now, be 
aisy wi' that watter, fur sure ye don't know the 
harrum ye might do t' yerself." 

" And what's the matter with the water ? " I 

" Sure, don't ye know the quality of it ? " was 
the question that he put to me in reply. 

" I do not," said I. 

" Aw, now, it's the good job I was wi' ye, or 
ye might be destroyed through yer ignerance." 

" What's the matter with it, anyway ? " I 

" Did ye nivir hear tell o' the man an' his wife 
that drunk o' it wi'out knowin' annythin' about 
it ? John O'Neill was his name, an' a dacent 
man, an' the name o' his wife was Bridget, but 
she wus beside herself wi' consate, an' didden like 
t' be called Biddy. * Me name's Bride,' she wud 
say, spakin' like a publican's wife thrum Dublin." 



" I never heard a word about them in my 
hfe. . . ." 

"An' you been t' college an' all, wi' the larnin' 
o' Trinity in yer head ! " 

" Well, you tell me about it, for dear sake," 
said I, " and not be standing there making a 
clatter with your tongue, and me nearly dead with 
the drouth ! " 

" Sure, have yer drink, but don't take too 
much, an' I'll tell ye about it as sure as ye 're 
stan'in' there." 

I drank eagerly of the cool clear water that 
comes out of a rock and is called St. Brigid's 
Well ; for St. Brigid, I would have you know, 
was as great a woman as St. Patrick was a man, 
and many a tale is told of her in Ireland this day 
that I would tell to you had I the time. 

" You'll be wanting a drink yourself, mebbe ? " 
said I to Michael when I had drunk my fill. 

" I do that," said he, and ducked his head 
down and drank as I had done. And when he 
had finished we resumed our journey through the 
Vale of Ovoca, and he told me this tale of the 
man that was called O'Neill and his wife Bridget 
and the strange thing that befell them at the 
well of St. Brigid. 

" He wus an ould man wus John O'Neill whin 
he come til these parts. It wus thrum the north 
he come, an' wus descended thrum the O'Neills 


of Ulster. Manny a time ye'd be seein' somethin' 
in a paper about the Red Han' o' O'NeilL It 
wus that family he belonged til. He married a 
wumman quaren younger nor himself. Mebbe 
twenty year younger she wus, an' wus the 
daughter o' a man that kep' a shop in Ennis- 
killen. Sure, she was no match fur him in blood. 
Her family was English an' nathin' til spake of 
at all. She wus the quare one fur lettin' on 
about herself. She wud tell ye her age was 
twenty-eight, an' her near double that, an' the 
wrinkles roun' her eyes like cart tracks in a 
loanin' in wet weather. But, sure, ye cudden 
shame the wumman an' affront her afore her 
own man that knew as well as she did what her 
age wus, an' ye cud on'y purtend ye belavcd her. 
It's a poor thing t' be exposin' tricks that do no 

" Wan day whin John O'Neill wus comin' the 
very way we're walkin' now, carryin' a load o' 
somethin' or another on his back, an' him that 
tired he cud har'ly walk, fur he wus near bent 
wi' age already, t' say nathin' o' a load as well, 
he come up til St. Brigid's Well, an', ses he, as 
ye might say yerself, ' It's a rest I'll be havin' an' 
a drink o' water t' drink, fur I'm that tired an' 
thirsty I'm fit t' drop ! ' An' wi' that he throws 
down his load on the groun', an', groanin' like 
a wheel that hassen had grease at it fur a year; 
he tries til straighten his back. ' Sure, I wish I 


wus thirty years younger,' ses he, 'an' it's not 
makin' me tired a load like that vviid be.' An' 
whin he'd had a bit o' a rest he stooped down an' 
tuk a drink, an' he drunk a quarc lot. An' whin 
he stud up again ye wudden belave but he wus 
a young man. Thirty years wus aff his age as 
sure as ye 're stan'in' there ! ' Lord bliss me 
sowl ! ' ses he, ' this is the quare set-out ! Sure, 
me wife '11 not know me at all whin I git home ! ' 
He stretched himself, an' begun to caper about 
like a wil' thing. ' Ah, now,' ses he, ' issen this 
the quare fine thing's happened t' me ? I come 
in here an ould man an' I'm goin' out young ! ' 

Michael broke off in his story to comment on 
this. " Sure, that's the way it ought t' be, 
anny way, though mebbe it's the same thing 
whin ye come t' think o' it. Ye git quaren like 
a chile whin ye git ould, they say." 

He proceeded with the story. 

" He picked up his load, an' it wus no trouble 
til him at all. ' Och ! ' ses he, * I cud carry a 
dozen loads the like o' this, an' not feel it at 
all ! ' When he got til his house, sure wussen 
Bridget stan'in' there, and didden know a bit o' 
him. She lukked at him amazed, an' ses she, 
* Who are ye at all ? Sure, I uset t' know some- 
wan quaren like ye, but I can't lay me min' t' 
who it wus.' * Och ! don't ye know me. Bride ? ' 
ses he, caperin' about like a young goat. * Is it 
me man ye are ? ' ses she. ' It is that ! ' ses he. 


* Aw, glory be t' God ! ' ses she, ' an' what's 
come over ye ? ' ' Come on intil the house,' ses 
he, ' an' I'll tell ye.' They wint intil the house, 
an' he tould her about St. Brigid's Well, an' ses 
he, ' Me girl, ye 're alwis purtendin' ye 're twenty- 
eight, an' you near double that age. It's a pity 
ye don't go til the well an' git a drink yerself, 
so's ye cud be young in truth.' He hadden got 
the words out o' his mouth afore she jumped up 
and put her shawl roun' her head. ' Will ye tell 
me where it is,' ses she, ' an' I'll go there this 
minit ? ' 'I will, surely,' ses he, an' he give her 
full directions, an' as soon as she heard him, aff 
she wint as hard as she cud, which wussen very 
hard, fur she wus gcttin' stout in her ould age 
an' wussen althegithcr firm on her feet. Whin 
she'd gone, John O'Neill sut down in the house 
afore the fire an' lit his pipe, til wait fur her 
comin' back. He waited an' waited, but she wus 
the quare long time comin'. ' She oughta be 
back be this time,' ses he. ' Sure, it's not as far 
as that.' 

" He was beginnin' til git a bit onaisy, an' he 
kep' on goin' til the dure til see if she wus comin', 
but there wussen a sign o' her anny where. It 
wus beginnin' til git dark, an' so he walked a bit 
o' the way til meet her, but not a bit o' her did 
he see. ' Now, issen it provokin',' ses he, ' the 
way that wumman carries on ? Sure, she cud 
ha' bin there an' back twice over if she'd liked. 


I suppose I'll have t' go after her, an' see what's 
become o' her. An' whin I'm there I may as well 
take another drop o' the blessed watter.' 

" He walked on an' on, an' as he walked it got 
darker and darker. ' It's hard til fin' yer way 
in the dark nights,' ses he, ' whin ye 're a stranger 
in a district. I hope no harrum's come til 
her. . . .' After a while he come til the Vale 
o' Ovoca, an' not a sign o' his wife cud he see 
anny where. He wus in a tarr'ble state. ' Dear- 
a-dear,' ses he, ' what '11 1 do wi'out me wumman ! ' 
An' wi' that he comes up til the well, an' as soon 
as he got there he heard somone cryin', an' goin' 
up, he saw a babby that wus cryin' its eyes out. 

" ' What ails ye ? ' ses he. 

" * D'ye not know me ? ' ses the chile. 

" ' I do not, indeed,' ses he ; ' an' it's the 
strange thing til hear a chile talkin' like a grown 
wumman ! ' 

" * Sure, I'm yer wife ! ' ses the chile. 
Ye 're me what ? ' ses he. 
I'm yer wife,' ses she. 

" ' Holy Murdher ! ' ses he, ' what's happened 
till ye at all ? ' 

" ' I did what ye tould me,' ses she. ' I come 
here an' drunk the watter, an' felt meself gittin' 
younger, an' it was that fine a feelin' til be young 
again that I furgot til stap, an' I tuktoo much ! ' " 

Michael and I came out of the Vale of Ovoca 


together, and parted company. " Ye shud alwis 
be careful," said he, " not to be too greedy at the 
Well o' Youth." 

" It's a fine tale," I replied ; and maybe some- 
thing in my voice made him think I was mocking 

" It's no lie I'm tellin' ye," he said, " but the 
God's truth ! " 

" Och, away out of that with you ! " said I, 
for I've lived in towns and the sap of life has gone 
out of me. "It would take more water than's in 
the well of St. Brigid to make me young enough 
to believe a tale like that ! " 

" Aw, God help ye," said Michael, " but ye 're 
in the quare bad way ! Sure, if ye don't want 
til belave a thing, it dussen matter whether it's 
true or not ; and if ye do want til belave it, sure 
it dussen matter aythir." 


I MET him in Kcw Gardens, where the rhodo- 
dendrons are thickest. He was standing gazing 
at a great clump of red blooms, and there was a 
curious little smile on his face, expressive of the 
pleasure a child or a savage must feel in con- 
templating a pleasing but uncomprehended thing. 
It would indeed have been a most insensible 
creature that could have passed between those 
bright bushes unmoved, and there was nothing 
singular in the fact that a man should be standing 
still in front of the rhododendrons with a glad 
look on his face. It was when I met him later 
on that I thought him an odd sort of being. We 
sat on the same seat, and we laughed at precisely 
the same moment when a child went by, making a 
curious sound by way of singing ; and that made 
us friends for the little while that we sat there, 
gazing idly about us. He was a little thin man, 
with delicate features and mild grey eyes. His 
hair was thin and wispy and discoloured, but 
neatly brushed. His clothes were old, but, save 
for their age, impeccable. There was about him 



an air of dinginess that was difficult to describe. 
You could not say that he was dingy because his 
clothes were very worn or unsightly, or his 
trousers were baggy and frayed at the edges, or 
his boots were down-at-hccl or thin-soled ; for 
none of those things was true. He did not 
appear to you in parts ; he appeared to you as a 
whole, and that whole amazingly dingy. 

I discovered that he was a bookseller's assistant; 
and I was pleased to learn that this was his 
occupation ; for I am a lover of books, and I 
thought to myself : " Now I shall be able to talk 
about books and bookmen for an hour or so with 
one who knows something of both. ..." 

" I don't do much reading myself," he said. 
" Don't 'ave the time." I was overwhelmed at 
the dropped aitch. Such mutilation of language 
was becoming, no doubt, in a grocer or an insur- 
ance agent, or some such clod, but utterly im- 
proper in one who handled books. " Reading 
isn't much in my line," he continued ; " not what 
you would call reading. I mean to say, I read 
the paper now and again, when I have time, I 
mean, and I always get Rule Britannia " — 
that is not the name of the paper he mentioned — 
" but not what you would call reading, I don't. 
I 'aven't the time for it." 

I inquired whether he never felt any desire to 
take down a book from its shelf in a quiet part 
of the day and read it. 


" Not what you would call read it, I don't," 
he repeated. " I might 'ave a look at the pic- 
tures, if there were any, or blow the dust off the 
edges, or look at the price on the fly-leaf ; but 
not what you would call read." 

I shifted the conversation to other topics. It 
was disappointing to have drawn so hopeless a 
blank on the subject of books, and so I went to 
that ignoble thing, politics. I said what I thought 
of this party and that, one political policy and 
another, that politician and the other politician, 
and then inquired what his views were. He 
dared say I was right. He was not one of those 
who took much interest in politics. In his 
opinion they were all much alike, meaning thereby 
that they were all equally bad. He was inclined 
to think that there was a great deal in political 
life which could do with a little showing up — 
he quite agreed with Rule Britannia about that. 
Not that he thought that things were quite as 
bad as Rule Britannia sometimes tried to make 
out ; he believed in moderation in all things, 
and particularly in expressions of opinion ; but 
this he did think, and this he was prepared to 
assert emphatically : things were not as good as 
they might be, and could very well be improved. 
Of course, he added, he might be wrong. Who 
mightn't ? The greatest in the world might 
sometimes be wrong. He well remembered how 
his father, now lamentably dead, had said that 



the man who never made a mistake never made 
anything ; and he was inchned to think that that 
was true. But still, making all allowances for 
error, he thought that things were not so good as 
they might be. 

" I don't really take much interest in politics, 
of course. I don't 'ave the time. You see, I 
'ave to be at the shop so long. I 'ave to be there 
at nine, you know, and we don't close until eight. 
Charing Cross Road hours are very late, you see, 
and on Saturdays it's later still ; so, of course, 
I don't 'ave the time, do I ? " 

I remarked that his life did not appear to be a 
very exhilarating one. " Oh, I don't know," he 
replied. " It's not so bad, you know. It could 
be worse, couldn't it ? I know some people 
much worse off than I am — I do, really. It's 
not what you would call an exciting life, not Very, 
I mean, but it's regular, and you get used to it ; 
and, of course, excitement doesn't suit some men. 
It mightn't suit me. You never know, do you ? 
So perhaps it's as well things are like they are." 

He never went to a theatre or a concert or to 
any sort of amusement. He hadn't the time. 
His chief, if not his sole recreation was a httle 
stroll in the Gardens on a Sunday morning. 

" It's just as well, perhaps," he said, " that I 
'aven't much time for any of those things. You 
see, in our business the pay is very small — very 
small — not what you would call much ; and if I 


'ad much time on my 'ands I might get discon- 
tented, and I shouldn't Hke that. Probably it's 
good for me. My father used to say 'ard work 
never killed no one, and I think that's true." 

I looked at the little, mean-looking man with 
the mild grey eyes and the delicate features, 
sitting there surrounded by the splendidly 
coloured rhododendrons, shaming us humans with 
their magnificence, and of a sudden I became 

" Don't you ever get tired of the monotony of 
it ? " I asked him. 

" Oh, no," he replied. " What would be the 
good ? " 

" But don't you feel you want to do something 
better than that with your life ? Ambition, I 
mean ? " 

For the first time a look of yearning came into 
his eyes, and he stared steadily in front of him for 
a second or so. 

" Yes," he said, after a little while, " sometimes 
I think it would be nice to have two pounds a 
week certain. ..." 


There was a man that was blind from his birth 
to whom sight was given suddenly. He saw 
before he knew that he could see, and since 
he did not know that his sight had been 
given to him he was afraid, for he thought 
that there was something the matter with his 

Those who were passing stopped to listen to 
him. " Why, what ails you ? " they demanded 
of the blind man. 

" I am afraid," he replied. " There was 
nothing in my eyes a moment ago, and now there 
are great shadows ! . . ." 

" What do you see ? " they said. 

" See ! " cried the blind man impatiently. 
" I cannot see. Have I not told you that I am 
blind ? " 

" But tell us what is in your eyes." 

The blind man stood for a moment quietly, and 
his eyes looked fixedly towards the man who held 
his hand. 

" There is a great shadow in my eyes," he said 


at last, "and sound comes from it. It moves. 
Oh, I am afraid ! ... Is that a man ? " 

And the man who held his hand said, " I am a 
man, and these that are about me are men and 
women. Those are houses that you see reaching 
above you." 

" I am afraid to move ! " 

" Come," they said, " take but one step. It 
will be easy when you have done that." 

" I am afraid," he said, looking up at the great 
buildings on either side of the street. " I am 
afraid that they will fall on me." 

The crowd laughed at him, saying, " We have 
walked between those houses since we were born, 
and they have done us no harm. We built 

" But I have not seen them before." 

" You knew that they were there. You have 
lived in some of them. You can see them now. 
Look how we push them, and they do not fall ! " 

" It is very strange," said the blind man. 

" Now, you must walk," they urged again. 

" I must walk ! " 

He put his foot out as he had done in the days 
when he could not see. 

" No," they said, " you must lift your feet 
from the ground. You must not drag them so. 
It is only blind men who shuffle along. Men who 
can see lift their feet from the ground." 

" I shall fall." 


" We will save you if you fall." 

He stood still, gazing queerly at the street. 

" What is all that ? " he asked, pointing to the 
horses and carts that passed rapidly. 

" That is the traffic," they said. " You must 
not step off the pavement until you are accus- 
tomed to the sight of it. Even men who see are 
sometimes afraid of it. It moves so quickly." 

" I wish I had not lost my blindness ! " 

" It is cowardly to say that ! " 

" I was happy in my blindness ! " 

" You will be happy with your sight." 

" I do not want to see ! There is so much to 

" You cannot help yourself," they said. " You 
are blind no longer. You can see. You must go 
on seeing ! " 

" I am afraid ! " 

They brought him to a quiet place so that he 
might get accustomed to seeing. 

" Look about you," they said. " Look at the 

" Green ! " he said, puckering up the flesh 
between his eyes in the manner of one who is 
puzzled. " What is green ? " 

" It is a colour," they replied. 

" Oh, yes," he said, trying to associate the 
word with the idea that had been in his mind 
before he had received his sight. " I under- 
stand. It is a colour." 


" This is grass," they said. 

" Grass ! It is green, is it not ? " 

" It is." 

" That is what green is," he said, looking at 
the grass intently. " May I take some ? " 

They put grass into his hands, and he looked at 
it for a long time. " That is green ! " he mur- 
mured ; and as he spoke his eyes wandered to a 
pine-tree that stood near. " What is that ? " 
he asked ; and they told him. 

" Has it got colour, too ? " he said. 

" It also is green," they replied. 

" But it is not the same colour as the grass ! " 
He turned to them reproachfully. " You said that 
this was green," he exclaimed, holding out the 
blades of grass to them, " and now you say that 
that is green ! " He pointed to the pine-tree. 
"You are deceiving me," he said bitterly. "I 
am a blind man and have never seen before. You 
are mocking me ! " 

Said they : " The grass and the pine-tree are 
both green. There are varieties of green. There 
is light green and dark green, the green of grass 
and the green of the pine-tree ; there is green 
that is almost yellow, and green like blue and 
green like black. There is the green of holly 
leaves and ivy, and the green of corn and wheat. 
There is the green of young leaves in spring and 
the green of old leaves in autumn. There is not 
one green, but many kinds of green." 


" And are all things like that ? " he asked. 

" All things are like that," they replied. 

" Then, indeed, it were better for me that I 
had remained blind. How shall I find my way 
through the world, when I must stop to learn all 
these things about one thing ? When I have 
learned green I must learn blue, and when I have 
learned blue I must learn red. When I know the 
pine-tree I must learn to know the oak and the 
ash and the willow. I am too old to learn all 
these things. I do not want my sight. I wish to 
be blind again. I was happy when I was blind. 
I could move about without fear. My stick 
tapping on the ground enabled me to find my 
way. I am not happy without my stick." 

They left the blind man, and told him he must 
learn to walk by himself. He besought them not 
to leave him, and moaned piteously when they 
said they must go. " We have much to do," they 
said. " You must learn to stand by yourself, so 
that you may come and help us." 

" I shall never be able to help," he said. " I 
shall never cease to be afraid." 

When they had gone he sat down on the ground, 
and was filled with despair. The clouds passing 
swiftly over his head caused him to tremble lest 
they should fall out of the sky and overwhelm 
him in disaster. He sat for a long time, looking 
about him, and then said to himself, " I will try 


to walk." He raised himself slowly and fear- 
fully from the ground and stood up. He became 
dizzy and swayed a little. " I shall fall down," 
he said to himself. But though he swayed a 
little and his legs rocked, he did not fall. He 
moved, and then, his voice being tremulous, said, 
" I can walk a step, I can walk ! " He moved 
quickly, and fell. " I knew," he said ruefully, 
and he rubbed himself where he had been bruised. 
" I knew that I should fall ! " And he declared 
that he would walk no more. But after a while 
he said he would try again, and he walked a long 
way until he came to the end of the field where a 
hedge was. " I can walk ! " he said joyfully. 
"I can walk! I can walk!" He turned to 
walk back again, and when he had gone part of 
the way, he said, " I will run I " And he ran, but 
so quickly that he could not stop, and he collided 
with the hedge, and was torn by the thorns. 
" I will walk," he said, " but I will not run." 

4: 4: ^ 4: :): 

After he had walked and had run and had 
leaped, and could go about the earth like other 
men, he came to the town and walked through the 
street in which his sight had come to him. And 
he was not afraid. He walked easily. "It is 
almost," he said, " as if I were blind again ! " 


Mr. Justice McBurnie stepped quickly into the 
shelter of the little passage, and collided with the 
man who had already taken refuge there. 

" I beg your pardon," he murmured. " It's 
very dark. ..." 

" That's all right, sir," the stranger replied in a 
cheery voice. " Bit awkward comin' in 'ere out 
of the light, ain't it ? Sudden, I mean." 

" Yes," replied the judge, turning to look at 
the rain-drenched street. " A very heavy shower," 
he added. 

" Yes, an' come on so sudden, too. Funny 
sort of weather we bin 'avin' lately, ain't we ? 
One minute sun shinin', an' the next you get 
soaked through. No certainty about it. I sup- 
pose it's bein' so near the sea, an' the 'ills, an' 
one thing an' another." 

" I suppose so," said Mr. Justice McBurnie in 
the tone of one who is indifferent to the conversa- 
tion of his companion. He looked for a moment 
at him, and saw a small man, seemingly of mild 

manners, with an odd way of smiling when he 



spoke, as though beneath his most commonplace 
phrase there lurked some inscrutably comic 
meaning known only to him. 

" You're a native of this town ? " asked the 

" Oh, yes. Born an' bred 'ere. I got a shop, 
you know." 

" Indeed ! " 

" Yes. I do a bit of travellin' now an' again. 
Nothink to speak of . . . . Gummy, ain't it comin' 
down, eh ? " 

The storm had grown in severity while they 
stood in the passage, and the rain came down in 

" Most unfortunate," murmured Mr. Justice 
McBurnie. "I've come quite a long way from 
my hotel without an umbrella or a mackintosh, 
I hope it won't last much longer." 

The little man smiled in his odd, superior, 
knowing way. " You never know," he said, 
" now the Assizes is on ! " 

" The Assizes ! " 

" Yes. Some people say there's bound to be 
bad weather when the Assizes is on. 'Specially 
when there's a murder case. Funny the things 
people do say about Assizes, ain't it ? " 

The judge did not reply. 

" Now, there's my ole mother. She would 'ave 
it that it was against the law for a butcher to 
serve on a jury tryin' a man for 'is life. She 


wouldn't believe it wasn't true. Of course, it 
ain't true. I ast a gentleman once — 'e was a 
lawyer, you know — an' 'e said 'e'd never 'eard of 
such a thing." 

" What a curious thing for your mother to 
believe ! " said Mr. Justice McBurnie, turning to 
the garrulous little man. 

" Yes it was, wasn't it ? Of course she don't 
believe it now, sir. She's dead." 

" Oh indeed ! " 

" Yes. She was a good ole soul. Seventy-two 
she was, an' 'ad 'er senses to the last. But she 
wouldn't believe it wasn't true about butchers, 
sir, not if the queen 'erself 'ad swore it on the 
Bible. She said it stood to reason butchers 
wouldn't be allowed to try a man for his life. 
' Killin' animals all day,' she said, ' made 'em 
callous, an' they'd 'ang you as soon as look at 
you ! 

Mr. Justice McBurnie laughed. " Oh," he said, 
" was that why she objected to butchers on juries ? " 

" Yes, sir, an' you couldn't shake 'er out of it. 
Of course, butchers is a bit 'ard. No doubt about 
it. Stan's to reason, as she said. You can't go 
on takin' life like they do an' not get a bit 'ardened, 
can you ? On'y wot I used to say to 'er was, it 
ain't the law. It may be common sense, ses I, 
but it ain't the law. But she would 'ave it that 
it was. Stubborn, sir ! Seventy-two, she was, 
but that stubborn ! " 


The judge advanced towards the edge of the 
passage and gazed up at the dark sky, and then 
up and down the street. 

" It doesn't seem to get any better," he said. 

" No," said the stranger, " it won't now, I 
shouldn't think." 

" I wonder if I could get a cab or some sort of 
vehicle ? " 

The little man thought it was probable that 
he might. " I'll go up to the 'ead of the street," 
he said, " when the rain's over a bit, an' see if I 
can get one for you." 

" You're very kind ..." 

" Oh no, sir, not at all ! You're a stranger 
'ere, an' if we can't do a thing like that for a 
stranger, wot's the good of us ? " 

They stood in silence for a few moments, and 
then the little man began to speak again. 

" You know, 'e must feel a bit queer to-night, 
I should think." 

" I beg your pardon," exclaimed Mr. Justice 

" The chap wot's goin' to be tried to-morrow. 
Young fella, 'e is. Killed a girl 'e was walkin' 
out with." 

" Oh, yes ! Yes, yes ! " 

" I suppose you 'eard about it. Jealousy ! " 

The judge nodded his head. 

" Now, there's a thing I can't understand, you 
know. If I was walkin' out with a girl, an' she 


got up to any tricks, runnin' after other fellas, I 
wouldn't go an' kill 'er or nothink. I'd simply 
tell 'er to go to 'ell, or somethink of that sort. 
Silly to go an' get 'ung for her ! Some people's 
funny -natured, ain't they ? " 

" That's true." 

" We ain't all alike, of course. Wouldn't do 
if we was. But I mean to say I can't understand 
a chap goin' an' killin' a girl for a thing like that. 
I mean to say, there don't seem no sense in it, 

" There isn't." 

" No. An' yet they go an' do it. I've knowed 
case after case like that. Decent enough young 
fellas, you know, on'y they go an' do a thing like 
that. It seems a pity, some'ow." 

" Yes . . ." 

" Of course, you 'ave to be firm about it. It 
wouldn't do to go lettin' 'em off or anythink, on'y 
some'ow. . . . Well, there was that young chap 
Smith — now, 'e wasn't a bad chap, 'e wasn't. 
A bit 'ot-'eaded. 'E done the same's this chap, 
an' 'e got 'ung same's this one will ..." 

" How do you know this one will be 
hanged ? " 

" Oh, 'e'll be 'ung all right ! The judge can't 
'elp 'isself. Clear case. Clear as anythink. I 
dessay the judge won't like doin' it. No one 
would. On'y it's got to be done. You've got 
to 'ave judges, an' if people goes about killin' 


other people, the judges 'ave got to sentence 
them to death. Can't 'elp theirselves. That's 
'ow I look at it." 

" I daresay you are right. I think the rain is 
going off. I believe it'll stop soon." 

" Can't help theirselves. It's got to be done, 
an' if it's got to be done, some one's got to do it. 
That's wot I told my ole mother about butchers. 
No good cursin' 'em, an' callin' 'em 'ard-'earted 
an' all that, if you eat meat. You can't 'ave 
meat unless there's butchers. I don't s'pose they 
do it for the fun of the thing ! " 

" No, I daresay not," said Mr. Justice McBurnie. 
" Do you think you could do what you so kindly 
suggested a few moments ago : get a cab for 
me ? I'm sorry to trouble you. ..." 

" No trouble at all, sir." The little man walked 
to the entrance to the passage and stood there 
for a moment or two while he turned up the collar 
of his coat. " You know," he said, turning to the 
judge, " they'll 'ang 'im all right. Can't help 
theirselves ! " 

" Well, well," said the judge impatiently. 

" You know," continued the little man, 
" it's the first case in this town. We got a 
new gaol 'ere. I'm a bit interested in the 

" Naturally." 

" I knoo 'im well, sir. Often an' often 'e'd 
come into my shop to 'ave a shave. Very 


partickler 'e was about bein' shaved. Very 
partickler. Couldn't bear to 'ave it done up. 
Very tender skin 'e 'ad." 

" If you wouldn't mind ..." 

" Don't mind a bit, sir. Not a bit. I never 
thought 'e would come to this. Come into my 
shop reg'lar 'e would. I never felt about any 
one the way I do about 'im. ..." 

Mr. Justice McBurnie came to the little man's 
side and peered up the street. " I believe I can 
hear wheels," he said. 

" So you can sir. I'll just run up and fetch 
the cab sir. Shan't be 'alf a sec ! " 

In a little while the cab came down the street 
and the judge stepped out of the passage. 

" Won't you let me drive you home ? " he said 
to the stranger. 

" It's very kind of you, I'm sure, sir. I ain't 
got far to go . . ." 

" You've been so very obliging," continued the 
judge. " I should like to . . ." 

" Well, thank you, sir." 

They stepped into the cab and the judge told 
the stranger the name of the hotel at which he 
was stopping. 

" You'd better tell him to drive to your 
home first, and then he can take me to the 

" Yes, sir." He called the name of his street 
to the cabman. " That's the name of the 'otel 


where the judge is stoppin'," he said, as they 
drove off. 

Mr. Justice McBurnie leant back in his 
seat and smiled. " Yes," he said, " I am the 

The stranger sat up and regarded him with 
curiosity. " Are you, now ! " he said. " You 
know, that's strange, that is ! You an' me's in 
the same line of business, so to speak." 

" Indeed ! " 

" Yes. Funny coincidence, I call it, you an' 
me talkin' the way we was about 'im." 

" About whom ? " 

" 'Im as killed the girl. 'E'd be surprised to 
'ear about this, 'e would." 

" I'm afraid I don't understand," said Mr. 
Justice McBurnie. 

" Well, it's simple enough, sir. You're the 
judge an' I'm the 'angman." 

Mr. Justice McBurnie sat up in his seat, and 
the smile disappeared from his lips. He tried to 
speak, but the words clung to his teeth and would 
not be uttered. 

" Sort of in the same business, you an' me," 
said the little man. " You begin it, and I end 
it. Funny coincidence, I call it. Fancy me 
tellin' you about 'im, an' you the judge and me 
the 'angman ! Used to come into my shop 
reg'lar 'e did, an' 'ave a shave. Very partickler, 
'e was. . . . Wot did you say, sir ? " 



Mr. Justice McBurnie did not speak. 

" I expec' you're tired, sir. Up too late. I get 
out 'ere. You know, when you come to think of 
it, it's a funny coincidence. . . . Goo '-night, 
sir ! Goo '-night ! " 


Mr. Martin awoke at five o'clock and stretched 
himself in bed. " Funny," he said, " 'ow I keep 
on wakin' up same's if I was goin' to work ! " 
He lay still for a few moments, blinking at the 
ceiling, and then, in the manner of one who has 
attacked a problem and found it insoluble, mur- 
mured, " I dunno ! 'Abit, I suppose ! " 

He turned over on his side, pulled the bed- 
clothes tightly about him, and resolutely shut his 
eyes. He lay so for five minutes, and then, 
kicking the clothes away, got out of bed. " No 
good," he said ; " only makin' meself silly tryin' 
to sleep on ! " 

He dressed himself and descending to the 
kitchen, busied himself lighting the fire and 
putting his house in order. He lived alone. His 
wife had been dead for so long a time that it 
seemed to him almost as if he had never been 
married, and after her death, being childless, he 
had continued to live on in the house, doing such 
work as was necessary himself. He was a victim 
of the work habit. He could not sit down and 



be decently idle. He planned out schemes for 
filling all tfie moments of his life when he was not 
asleep. He got his wife to teach knitting to 
him so that he might be employed at those times 
when he had to sit still, a thing that he loathed 

Oddly enough, he disliked work. His supreme 
desire was for a life of slow effort and leisure ; a 
time when he could take things easy. His 
apparently consuming craving for work was not 
due to his love of work, but to a desire to get 
enough money saved to be able to retire from 
work altogether. And so he had devoted his 
youth to joyless, restless days and nights, abstain- 
ing from all recreation and pleasure because, so 
far from bringing money to him, it took money 
from him. He had turned his wife, a quiet, 
subdued woman, into a machine for saving 

And here was the result. He was now a man 
of means, living in retirement. He was positively 
a man of independent income. He could get up 
when he liked, dally over his food as long as he 
liked, go out or stay in, make holiday or work, 
just as he pleased. For six months before the 
actual date of his retirement his spirits had been 
so buoyant that his familiars imagined he had 
gone out of his wits. He would now and then 
cease from working to chuckle aloud ! 

When he had resigned his post his employers 


held a meeting of their workmen-, and before 
them all called him " a faithful servant." They 
presented him with a letter of thanks, signed by 
each member of the firm, and awarded a pension 
to him. An account of the proceedings appeared 
in the local paper, together with his photograph. 
. . . Reward, indeed, for all that he had 
done ! 

Every morning since then (and that was a 
fortnight ago) he had enjoyed the bliss of lying 
in bed and stretching his legs, knowing tiiat he 
need not get up, though all his friends were 
hurrying sleepily towards their jobs. It aston- 
ished him to find that ne could not lie on until 
eight o'clock, as he had always vowed he would. 
Each night, on retiring, he solemnly pledged 
himself not to get up at five, and each morning 
he broke his pledge. 

" Can't 'elp it," he said to himself, by way of 
excuse. " Of course," he went on, " it'll take 
me some time to get used to it. Only natural 
that, any'ow ! " 

Whilst he was preparing his breakfast and 
telling himself that it was silly for him to do this 
menial work — " Only fit for women ! " — and that 
he must really engage a good servant, the news- 
paper boy threw the morning journal through the 
open door. Mr. Martin went and picked it up. 
" Don't 'ave to wait now to read the paper," he 


said. " It's all right bein' able to sit down to 
your breakfis with the paper an' take as long as 
you like." 

It was the one solid pleasure he had as yet 
derived from his retirement, the privilege of 
reading the day's news at leisure. He read the 
paper, while he ate his meal, from the title on 
the front page almost to the name of the printer 
at the foot of the last column on the last page. 
It was his way of asserting the fact that he could 
do what he liked with his time. But even news- 
papers come to an end, and when he had re- 
luctantly discarded the journal, he busied himself 
clearing away the remnants of his meal and 
restoring the room to order. 

" Wonder what I shall do now," he said to 
himself, when he had done this. " Lemme see ! 
Yesterday I went for a walk to the Square, an' 
looked at all the shops, an' then I come 'ome 
again ! An' the day before yesterday I walked 
to the Square. . . . Lord bless me, I done the 
same that day as I done yesterday ! No good 
doin' that every day. Lemme see, now, wot '11 
I do to-day ? " 

He sat still for a few moments — it was really 
a few moments, but it seemed to him, so unused 
was he to sitting still, to be an interminably long 
time — and then got up and put on his coat and 
hat. " I dunno," he said. " Don't seem to be 
nowhere to go excep' the Square ! " 


He went out into the street, and walked slowly 
towards the centre of the town. Every now and 
then he caught himself walking quickly, and 
stopped short. " No need to 'urry now ! " he 
said. " Got all day to get there ! " He arrived 
at the Square, and walked past all the shops 
without looking into any of them. " I seen 
them all now," he said to himself, and then added 
a little querulously, " Tired of seein' em ! " He 
came to the Free Library, and decided to go in. 
" Taint no good, though," he murmured. " I'm 
no 'and at readin' ! " 

It was a slack time of the year, and many un- 
employed men were in the Reading Room. The 
newspapers were all monopolised, and so were 
all the illustrated papers. There was nothing 
left for Mr. Martin but the heavy quarterly 
reviews and trade journals and things like the 
Vegetarians' Gazette and the Theosophists' Review, 
none of which made any appeal to him. He 
waited patiently while a lady solidly read 
through the Illustrated London News, and then 
found it was a copy he had already seen. He 
got up in disgust and went out into the Square 

" Wot a nole this place is," he said. " Ain't 
nothink to do ! " 

He hesitated for a while outside a picture 
palace, but did not enter. " Only fit for kids an' 
women," he said, and turned away. He walked 


on all sides of the Square again, looking into the 
window of each shop that he passed, hoping to 
see something of interest. At the last shop but 
one he was rewarded : an assistant was re- 
dressing the window, and the old man spent an 
exhilarating half-hour watching him do it. But 
he got tired of standing still, and so he drifted 
out of the Square into some of the neighbouring 
streets. In High Street he met his former 

" Hilloa ! " exclaimed the manager, " enjoying 
yourself, eh ? " 

" Oh, yes," replied Mr. Martin. "I'm 'avin' 
a great time, walkin' about doin' nothink ! " 

" Well," the manager rejoined, " you've worked 
hard enough for it, and you deserve a rest ! " 

"That's true enough," said Mr. Martin, as 
they separated. " I'm not sure I ain't worked 
too 'ard ! " 

He got tired of walking about aimlessly. It 
was too soon to return home for his midday 
meal. He had an hour or two to get through 
before he need do that, and it came to him 
forcibly that he had done all the things he usually 
did. He became a little angry about it, and 
blamed his town for its lack of interesting things. 
He had few friends ; he had been too busy 
working to make friends ; he took no interest in 
politics, because, so far as he could see, they were 
unprofitable ; and the newspapers and magazines 


confused him. He could not sit still, and he 
could not think. He had allowed his mind to go 
out of training for years, and at his age it was 
impossible to get it to run smoothly again. He 
had spent his life in continual labour in order that 
this time when he could dispense with labour 
might come, and had neglected the things that 
would make leisure worth while ; and now that 
he had leisure, leisure was irksome to him, for 
he did not know what to do with it. 

" I'm getting sick of this ere," he said, 
stumping round angrily. " Gives a chap the 
'ump this sort of thing does ! I've a good mind 
to go an' get a job." 

The manager of his old firm came round the 
corner as he thought this, and the old man 
impulsively went up to him. 

" Look 'ere, Mr. 'Arper," he said, " can I 
come back to the shop to-morrow mornin' ? " 

The manager looked at him in amazement. 

" Come back to the shop ! " he exclaimed. 
" Good Heavens, what do you want to do that 
for ? " 

" Well, you see, it's like this ! I dunno wot 
the 'ell to do with myself ! I ain't used to this 
sort of life. I 'ave a feelin' I'll go silly if I don't 
get somethink to do ! " 

" Well, why don't you enjoy yourself ? " 

" I can't. I don't know 'ow to. You see, 
I always bin a nard worker ! " 


" Yes, yes, that's true ! " 

" An' if you could see your way ! . . . " 

The manager, looking uncomfortable, cleared 
his throat a little, and said, " You see it's difficult. 
We've given your job to another man, and of 
course you're not so young as you used to be, 
are you ? " 

"No, that's true enough. I'm sixty-six ! " 

" We really need a young man for your work. 
We felt that several years ago, but you were 
such a faithful servant, we didn't like to . . . 
You understand ! " 

The old man looked at his manager in a puzzled 
way for a few moments, and then began to under- 

" You mean you was glad to get rid of me? " 
he began. 

" Not quite that, but ... " 

Mr. Martin turned away, for Mr. Martin felt 
himself doing something he had never done 
before, not even when his wife died : he was 

" It's all right, sir," he said. " P'raps you're 

The manager, affecting jocularity, bade him 
pull himself together, and wished him good- 

" You just knock about and enjoy yourself," 
he said. 

" Yes, sir," said Mr. Martin, " I'll 'ave a try ! " 


He stood still for a moment, after the manager 
had gone, wondering what he should do next. 

" I think," he said, "I'll go for a walk in the 
Square, and look at the shops ! " 


I FOUND him sitting on the edge of Romney 

Marsh, on the side of the road from Hythe to 

Dymchurch, where the shooting ranges are. He 

was repairing one of his boots in an extraordinarily 

complex manner : pieces of string seemed to be 

the chief element in the process. It was a very 

hot day ; the sky was unclouded ; and the road 

from Hythe to Dymchurch is shelterless. I was 

tired and overheated, so I sat down in the 

shadow of the bracken beside him. He agreed 

that the weather was hot, and that it was a long 

time since we had had weather so hot. He 

agreed also that the farmers would be in a 

difficult position if the drought continued ; the 

burnt-up state of the fields did not indicate great 

stores of fodder. Still, it couldn't be helped, 

and if it were hard on farmers, it was good for 

other people. Not much good to him, though ; 

tramping was not a joy on a scorching, dusty day, 

particularly when your boots weren't of the best. 

" Not much of a game, at any time, is it ? " 

I asked, passing the cigarettes. 



" Like everything else," he said, lighting up ; 
" has its bad points as well as its good ! " 

" Aimless sort of life," I suggested. 

" Oh, I dunno ! Not any worse than any- 
thing else ! " 

" Surely ! " I exclaimed, in the Smilesian 
manner, " a man gets some satisfaction out of 
life when he feels he has done his share of the 
world's work ! " 

" P'raps," he said, non-committally, and then 
lapsed into silence. 

A small squad of soldiers, returning to barracks 
from shooting at the targets, went by, red and 
weary ; their tunics were open at the throat, 
and some of them had pushed their caps back 
on their heads so that what breeze there was 
might cool their brows. A motor-car came 
speedily from Hythe, throwing up clouds of dust 
as it went by, and in its train came a light cart, 
laden with trunks and children and a tired- 
looking woman. 

" You know," said the tramp, suddenly, " I 
used to be respectable, and earn my living ! " 

I murmured vaguely, and he proceeded. 

" Twenty years I was with one firm ! " he said. 

" Twenty years ! " 

" Yes, ever since I left school till I gave it up ! " 

" Twenty years is a long time ! It seems odd 
you should go on the tramp after service like 
that ! " 


" It does seem funny, doesn't it ! I often 
wonder at myself when I think of it ! " He 
looked quizzically at me for a moment, and then 
said, " You know, you do do funny things now 
and then, don't you ? " 

I nodded. 

" You don't know why you do it ! Can't 
account for it, nohow. You just do it ! " 

I said that I should have thought that a steady 
man, with a record of twenty years' good service 
in one firm, would have little difficulty in getting 
fresh employment. 

" Yes," he said, " p'raps you're right ; only 
somehow I don't want a job ! " I shrugged my 
shoulders. " No," he continued, quite without 
asperity in his voice. "No, I'm not a lazy chap. 
I was up at four this morning, and I've walked 
from Rye ! . . . That's a good step on a day 
like this ! No, it isn't that ! I don't think a 
job's good enough ! " 

I asked him to explain, adding some foolish- 
ness about the dignity of labour, which I am 
afraid amused rather than inspired him. I 
detected that from the expression in his eyes. 
He did not say anything to indicate that he 
thought I was babbling nonsense. His manner 
was quiet and gentle and courteous, as though 
he found life so odd that he could not lose his 
temper about it, or be boorish even to those who 
were boorish to him. 


" I used to think that," he said, simply, " and 
p'raps it's true. Only I didn't think so the day 
I gave it up, and I don't think so now. I don't 
suppose I ever shall ! " 

"Why did you give it up ? "I asked. 

" I often wonder about that myself ! You 
see, it was like this ! I was employed in a ware- 
house. Went there as a lad to run errands, and 
worked my way up to porter. I was getting 
twenty-three bob a week, and I worked from 
six in the morning till six at night ! " 

" Pretty long hours," I admitted. 

" Oh, I dunno. There's lots worse than 

"Of course," I said, "it was a regular job, 
and you were pretty safe, I suppose. Not like 
those poor devils of casual labourers ! " 

" That's true enough ! I often thought that 
myself. My wife thought I was one of the lucky 
ones ! 

" Dead, I suppose ? " 

" No, not that I know of ! " 

" You mean ! . . . " 

" Deserted her, yes ! " 

" You don't expect me to admire you, do you ?" 

" No. We had four youngsters, but two of 
them died. Consumption ! " 

" And what happened to the other two ? " 

" I don't know. She looked after them, 
I s'pose. She was a good sort of woman, you 


know. I often think that. I s'pose I did wrong 
by her ! " 

" You're a pretty bad lot," I said, with some 

" Yes, I s'pose some people would think that. 
P'raps I am, only somehow — well, it's hard to 
tell, isn't it ? " 

I said that the matter was clear enough to me. 

" Yes, I know," he said, " but you have to be 
a thing before you can understand it properly. 
That's what I think ! " 

" But why," I said, urgently, " did you throw 
up everything and take to this sort of life ? " 

" Well, that's just what's so hard to explain. 
You see, I'm a steady sort of chap as a rule. 
I don't drink, or anything of that sort ! . . . 
I can't help wondering why I did it, and I can't 
make out why I don't go back again. That's 
what beats me. I often think of my wife, only 
somehow she don't seem to belong to me ! You 
know ! It's like as if I was looking in some- 
where, and she was inside and I was out, and . . . 
Well, I suppose, it's how the dead thinks of the 
living. Can't feel the same about 'em somehow, 
as they did when they was alive. It's odd, you 
know ! " 

I saw that he was in the mood for speculation, 
and I allowed him to ramble on without inter- 

" I went down to the warehouse one day just 


the same as I always did. Caught a workman's 
tram and got there as usual. There wasn't any- 
thing special about the day. Just an ordinary 
day. I had my dinner in my pocket, wrapped 
up in a bit of newspaper. I remember it just the 
same's it was yesterday. Some bread and a 
cold sausage, and I meant to buy a cup of cocoa 
at a shop near the warehouse. There was a chap 
sitting beside me in the tram, reading a paper, 
and he said to me, ' This Smelton case is a bit 'ot; 
isn't it ? ' and I nodded my head, and said, 
' Yes, it is,' and he said something else which 
I forget, and then he got off the tram, and I 
followed him. I don't remember rightly what 
happened after that, but I can recollect having 
my dinner, and sa^dng to myself, ' Not much of 
a meal this for a man ! ' And it wasn't, you 
know ! Bread and cold sausage ! Of course, 
she couldn't help it ! Probably didn't have any- 
thing at all herself ! . . . And then I suddenly 
felt what a silly game it all was. * Fancy,' says 
I to myself, ' slogging at it like this twelve hours 
every day for twenty-three bob a week ! ' Bread 
and cold sausage ! Twenty years I'd been at it, 
mind you, and that was all I was getting. And 
no chance of getting any more. That was what 
knocked me over ! I might go on working 
another twenty years and be no better off at the 
end of them than I was then. No prospects ! 
Every day the same ! Six to six ! Twenty- 


three bob a week. Bread and cold sausage. 
* God,' said I, ' what a life ! . . . ' And then 
I just gave up ! I went and drew my money — 
it was pay-day — ^and I cleared off. I sent half 
of it to her, and said I wasn't coming back again. 
I was fed up ! " 

He got up from the grass and collected his 

" And that's how it was," he said, standing in 
front of me, and looking like one who seeks for 
explanations of things which cannot be explained. 
" It just came over me like that, and I can't 
make it out, and I don't suppose I ever shall. 
It's funny, you know, that's what it is ; but 
funny things do happen sometimes." 


The Englishman came up the old, ascending 
road that leads from Ballyshannon to the town- 
lands of Rossnowlagh and Bclalt, and where it 
reaches its height and begins to dip again, he 
paused for a while before a gap in the hedge to 
look down on the sea that lay before him like a 
great shining thing. To his right was Donegal 
Bay, and in the heart of it was the bright splash 
of white light that sailors call " the silver streak " ; 
to his left was the salmon leap fronting Bally- 
shannon, and beyond that, distant and misty; 
the black hills of Sligo pierced the clouds and 
were lost. Below him, sitting on the earth, was 
John O'Moyle. 

" Good morning, Pat ! " exclaimed the English- 

" Me name's not Pat," replied O'Moyle ; " it's 
John O'Moyle, o' the town o' Ballyshannon since 
ivir A wus born ! " 

The Englishman smiled. " I thought all you 
fellows were called Pat ! " he said. 

" Aw, indade, there's manny in the wurl' like 


you, God help ye ! " It was plain that the man 
was out of his wits, so the English tourist for- 
bore to be angry. " It's a brave sort o' a day ! " 
continued O'Moyle. 

" Very fine, indeed — very fine ! " 

" It's like the shinin' hosts o' heaven, the 
day ! Wi' the sun shinin' on the watter, an' 
all ! " 

" Yes, yes ! . . . " 

" D'ye see thon white light on the sea ? " said 
the witless man, pointing to the silver streak on 
Donegal Bay. The Englishman nodded. " It's 
the ladder that the angels come down thrum 
Heaven on t' Jacob that wus slapin' at the tut o' 
it wondherin' how much he'd be gettin' at the 
market fur Laban's sheep ! " 

" That's a quaint fancy ! . . . " 

" Eh ! It's no fancy, but the God's truth ! 
Are ye goin' far ? " 

The Englishman explained that he was walking 
over to Rossnowlagh, that he proposed to lunch 
there, and then walk on to the town of Donegal. 
Nine Irish miles it was, he understood, from 
Rossnowlagh to Donegal. 

"It is that, iv'ry inch o' it ! Sure, it's the 
long walk, but tlie railway runs there, an' if 
ye've anny money ye can travel be train. Mebbe 
ye 're a traveller ? " 

" I prefer to walk," said the Englishman, 
ignoring the inquiry concerning his occupation. 


" It's a quare thing t' want t' be walkin' whin 
ye have the money t' ride ! Ye 're not doin' it 
fur fun, are ye ? " 

" That's just what I am doing it for ! " and 
the Englishman laughed. 

" Well, A declare ! Ye 're an Englishman, 
aren't ye ? " 

" I am," said the traveller, with quiet pride. 

" Ay, A thought as much ! " 

The Englishman looked about him, observing 
the ill-condition of the fields. "It's a poor sort 
of a country this, isn't it ? " he said. 

" Aw, it cud be worse, an' it cud be better. 
God made it, an' ye can't grum'le ! There's 
better Ian' on the road t' Donegal, but sure the 
Prodesans has it all. The like o' Ian' like that 
is all that Cathliks can git ! " 

" Well, now," said the Englishman, " don't 
you think that that's a strange thing? The 
Protestants are prosperous and the Catholics 

"It's not strange at all. If ye wur a Cathlik 
an' yer great -gran 'fat her wus hanged fur a rebel, 
an' his brother that wus a holy priest wus shot 
dead be sodgers in a glen fur say in' a mass, an' 
ye wur driven thrum wan place till another an' 
the Ian' that wus in yer fam'ly thrum the time 
o' Red Hugh O'Neill wus tuk thrum ye by a 
damned oul' scoundrel called Crumwill an' give 
till strangers thrum over the sea, wud ye be 


much better aff nor iis, Prodesan or no 
Prodesan ? " 

" Oh, of course ! " exclaimed the English- 
man. " Historical reasons, and so forth, no 
doubt ! But — of course, I don't want to hurt 
your feelings — ^you quite understand ! — ^but really 
you know, the Catholics in Ireland are a shiftless 
lot. I've been here a week now ! . . . " 

" It's a long time whin ye come t' think o' it ! " 

" I don't pretend to have formed an expert 
opinion on the subject, but so many men in 
Ireland seem to lounge through life. They've 
no energy, no go, no hustle in them ! You, for 
instance, what is a fine, healthy-looking fellow 
like you doing lounging about in a field like this ? 
Isn't there any work you can do ? " 

John O'Moylc, being a half-wit, stood up in 
the field and gazed at the Englishman standing 
above him in the break in the hedge. " What 
would I be workin' fur ? " he demanded. 

" Every man ought to work ! It's — it's only 
decent. Besides, people are happier that work ! " 

O'Moyle climbed up the earth bank, and stood 
beside the Englishman. " Do you see thon wee 
man wi' the black hair in the fiel' ayont ? " he 
said, pointing to where a peasant was spraying 
potatoes — a frail, hairy man, with a tank con- 
taining disinfectant strapped to his back. The 
Englishman nodded. 

" Thon's Jimmy M'Givern ! " continued John 


O'Moylc. "Thon's his ficl'. He got it in the 
Lan' Purchase ! He has a bit more, too. He's 
a man o' propirty, is Jimmy M'Givern ! He 
works hard, very hard ! He's up at five an' 
sometimes eariier iv'ry day, an' he works thrum 
the dawn o' day t' the dark o' night, an' hardly 
ivir staps. Ay, he's a hard worker is Jimmy 
M'Givern i Workin', workin' all the time, 
bendin' over purties, an' mebbe whin he's not 
lukkin' the blight comes in aff the sea wan night 
an' destroys the crap entirely ! " 

" Ah, but there's the thrill of working his own 
land ! It's his own, you say — he got it from 
the Land Purchase Commissioners ! " 

"Ay, it'll be his if he lives long enough. At 
the end of seventy-two years, when he's paid 
aff the instalments, it'll be his ! " John was 
silent for a moment. He stood watching the 
bent figure as it went up and down the rows of 
potatoes, spraying them lest the blight should 
get at them and turn them black while he slept. 
Then he laughed. " Mebbe ye 're right, sir ! " he 
added. " But A'm thinking A'd rather be a 
fool nor be Jimmy M'Givern ! A git up whin 
A like, an' A beg a crust o' bread fur the love o' 
God, an' a sup o' drink ! An' A come out an' 
luk at the sea, wi' the sun in me face an' the 
win' bio win' in me hair ! . . . " 

The Englishman moved on. He began to fear 
that he would be late for luncheon. He nodded 


to John and passed on. Where the road bends 
slightly there is a cottage, and he stopped to 
ask for a drink of water. An old woman gave 
him to drink. Looking up the road he saw John 
O'Moyle standing regarding the figure of Jimmy 
M'Givern. He thanked the old woman, and 
pointing to John, said, " He's a queer sort of 
chap, isn't he ? " 

" Is it John O'Moyle ye mane ? " she replied. 
" Aw, sure, ye needen bother yer head about 
him ! He's astray in his mind, God help him ! " 


Mr. 'Enry Martin walked .smartly up the 
Walworth Road in the manner bejfitting a man 
who has not long been married and who is eager 
to get home to his wife on a fine Saturday after- 
noon. He imagined to himself a meal with 
Aggie, a little smoke, and then a stroll up the 
Camberwell Road to Ruskin Park, and a lazy 
lounge during the afternoon, watching the boys 
at cricket or the stupid old gentlemen playing 
bowls, a game which seemed to Mr. 'Enry Martin 
to be profoundly silly. He was prepared to 
admit, if pressed on the point, that no doubt it 
suited some people, and that, as likely as not, 
they enjoyed it ; but he thought it was a poor 
game, fit only for females and fat old men. 
Nevertheless, he liked to sit and look at the 
players as they rolled the bowls over the well- 
cut grass. Aggie liked the tennis-players best 
of all, her affection for them being derived from 
the novelettes ; it appeared that all the Really 
Nice People played tennis with great grace. 
Such was the afternoon that Mr. 'Enry Martin 



anticipated for himself and his wife. Such had 
been the Saturday afternoons, on the whole, that 
they had spent together since their marriage. . . . 

If it was an eager, pleased 'Enry Martin that 
went into No. 5 Jordan Grove on that warm day, 
it was a puzzled, vaguely angry 'Enry Martin 
that came out again later on ; not only was it 
a puzzled 'Enry Martin that came out of the 
house, but it was a lonely 'Enry Martin, for 
Aggie, for the first time for six months, remained 
behind. He walked slowly up the Grove towards 
the main road, looking very much like a man 
who has been violently punched on the head, 
but is unable to say why he has been punched, 
or by whom. Where the Grove joins the Wal- 
worth Road he met George Halliday, whom 
every one calls Ole George, for no particular 

" 'Illoa, 'Enry ! " exclaimed Ole George, as 
he came up to 'Enry, and 'Enry moodily replied, 
" 'loa ! " 

" Nah, nah ! " said Ole George, " down't look 
so bloomin' merry, ole chap ! I can't stand it, 
reely, I can't ! It 'urts me to laugh ! . . . " 

" Ow, chuck it, for 'eaven's sike ! " was all 
that 'Enry replied to Ole George's flow of sarcasm. 

" Bit upset, ain't you ? " inquired Ole George. 

" So'd you be if you was me ! " 

" Ow ! 'Ow's that ? " 

" Down't knaow wot's the matter with Aggie ! 


Fair snapped the 'ead off me, she did. Never 
seen her like it before. 'Ope she ain't goin' to 
be like it alwis ! " 

" W'y, wot's the matter ? " 

" I down't knaow ! As soon as I got in, 
I could see somethink was wrong. Cryin' she 
was, an' didden knaow wot she was cryin' for. 
* Wot's up, ole girl ! ' ses I. * Nothink,' ses she. 
' Ow,' ses I, like that, ' well, I shouldn't mike so 
much fuss abaht it if I was you ! ' ' Wouldn't 
you ? ' ses she. ' Naow,' ses I, * I wouldn't ! ' 
An' then I ses, ' Wot's for dinner ? ' ' 'Ash ! ' 
ses she. ' 'Ash ! ' ses I, 'I 'ate 'ash !' 'It's all 
you'll git,' ses she, 'an' chance it ! ' The place 
didden look the same, some'ow. Clean enough, 
you knaow, on'y it didden look as if 'er 'eart was 
in it. You knaow ! " 

Ole George nodded sagely, and 'Enry continued 
his tale of woe. 

" Never said a word, she didden, w'ile we was 
'avin it, neither, but kept on lookin' misable ! 
You knaow ! 'Umpified ! ' Comin' out,' ses I, 
w'en we'd cleared awy the dishes. ' Naow,' she 
ses, short-like. ' Ow, awright,' ses I, ' be nasty 
abaht it, on'y don't sy I didden ast ye ! ' 
' Down't wanna gow aht,' ses she. An' then 
I fair lost me temper, an' talked strife til her. 
' Look 'ere,' I ses, ' wot's the little gime, eih ? 
Wod you gettin' at, eih ? ' An' so 'elp me, she 
started cryin' as 'ard as she could, an' that fair 


unnerved me, an' I put me arms roun' 'er, an' 
I ses, ' Look 'ere, ole girl, wot's up any'ow ? 
Anyone bin annoyin' of you ? ' She started to 
blubber worse 'n ever, an' 'ung on til me, an' kep' 
on sayin' she didden mean no 'arm, an' she'd be 
a Wright bymeby, an' she didden knaow wot was 
up with 'er. ' Tired-like,' she ses. ' I'll lie down 
for 'alf-a-nour, an' then I be awright ! You go 
on aht an' let me be quiet,' she ses. An' 'ere 
I am. Rummy go, I call it ! " 

Ole George took him by the arm and led him 
into the " Sir William Walworth." He de- 
manded that the young person behind the bar 
should supply him and his friend with two glasses 
of beer, and quick abaht it, see ! 

" You knaow," he said, when they had taken 
their first drink of the beer, and had solemnly 
said, " 'Ere's lookin' ^-wards you!"; "you 
knaow, you oughta be in a Nome, you ought ! " 

" 'Ow du mean ? " exclaimed 'Enry. 

" 'Ow do I mean ! Ain't you got no bloomin' 
gumption ? " He leant over and tapped 'Enry 
on the shoulder. " Cheps like you," he con- 
tinued, " oughtn't t' be allowed t' git married ! 
Down't knaow nothink ! " 

'Enry gazed at Ole George indignantly. 
" Strikes me," he said, " as 'ow you got 
somethink wrong with you, too. Talkin' 
like that ter a chap ! Wod you mean by it, 
eih ? " 


" Ain't you got no understandin' ? Ain't you 
never 'eard of nothink ? " 

" 'Eard of wot ? " 

Ole George became so sarcastic that he could 
scarcely contain imself. " 'Eard of wot ! " 
he mimicked 'Enry. " W'y wot the 'ole bloomin' 
world 'as 'eard of, exceptin' you ! " 

'Enry still looked blankly in front of him. 
" I dunno wot you're drivin' at," he said. " Off 
your 'ead wot I can see of it ! " 

Ole George implored him to say where he had 
been born and brought up, and ended by assuring 
him that the 'eathen in 'is blindness knew more 
about things than 'Enry apparently did. 

" Well, wot's it all abaht, then ! " said 'Enry 
impatiently. " It ain't my fault I down't 
knaow nothink, W'y down't you tell me wot 
it is, 'stead o' callin' me aht me nime ! " 

Ole George called for two more beers, and 
quick about it too, miss, or you'll 'ear more'n 
you'll like, see ! And, when he was served, he 
leant over and said, in a very solemn whisper, 
" 'Enry, my boy, it's my belief as 'ow you're goin' 
ter do your dooty by the Stite ! " 

" 'Ow du mean ? " 

" Nah, look 'ere, 'Enry, wot does doin' j^our 
dooty be the Stite mean ? Wot's eddication for 
if you down't knaow thet, yet ? You're going 
ter be a nappy fawther, my boy, thet's wot 
you're goin' to be. Absolute ! " 


" Wot ! " 

" A nappy fawther, my boy ! " 

'Enry stood up straight, and caught hold of 
Ole George by the coat. " Wod you sy ? " he 
repeated vacantly, 

" Wot I ave said, I 'ave said," replied Ole 
George. " You didden ought t' be allowed t' 
be one be rights, not a chep thet down't knaow 
nothink didden ! " 

" So 'elp me ! " exclaimed 'Enry. 

" Bit of a oner, ain't it, eih ? " 

" Fency me ! . . . Look 'ere, George, it's all 
right, ain't it ? No 'ank, I mean ! " 

" 'Ank ! " said Ole George. Of course it ain't 
'ank. W'en you're my age, my boy, you'll 
knaow it ain't a subject you can 'ank abaht ! " 

" I can't 'ardly realise it ! ... Of course, 
I knoo somethink 'ud 'appen somedy, but I 
never thought abaht it rightly. You knaow ! " 
Ole George nodded sympathetically. " Absolute 
knock-aht, it is," continued 'Enry. " Mikes you 
think, it do. Fair pulls you up. So 'elp me ! " 
He gazed at the beer in an abstracted fashion, 
and then raised the glass to his lips, but set it 
down again without drinking. " I better be 
gettin' 'ome," he said, "an' see after 'er ! " 

" She be awright," replied Ole George. " Much 
better leave 'er alone. They likes t' be quiet 
at first. Funny things, women ! " 

" Wot I can't git owver is me bein' a fawther, 


y' knaow ! Mikes ye feel funny, down't it ? Of 
course, you're used to it, nah ! . . . " 

" Never git used t' it," declared Ole George. 
" We've 'ad six, an' the last knocked me all of 
a neap jus' as much as the first. Never git 
used ter thet, you down't ! " 

They finished the beer in silence, and then 
rose and went out of the public -house, and 
walked in the direction of home. There was a 
great noisy crowd in the street, and the harsh 
voices of the costermongers, crying their wares, 
came floating through the air. A blind man 
monotonously cried for pity on his condition, 
and an old woman turned the handle of a dismal 
barrel-organ. The street was hot, and reeking 
with the smell of overcrowded humans. All the 
noise of the world seemed concentrated in that 
one street. " Goo' God ! " 'Enry murmured to 
himself, his temples throbbing. " W'y cahn't 
they shut their silly rah ! " 

" You be a Wright ! " said Ole George. 

" Didden ought to 'ave said wot I did to 'er ! " 

" She'll forget abaht it awright ! . . . " 

They went through the crowd as though it 
were not there. 

" Goo-night, ole man ! " said Ole George, as 
they separated. 

" Goo '-night, George ! " was 'Enry's reply. 

" She be awright presently," Ole George 
assured him, and left him. 


He walked down the street like a man dazed. 
" Absolute knock-aht," he said, and then added, 
" So 'elp me ! " He stood about the door of the 
house for a few minutes as if he were afraid to 
enter. " Upsets a chep, this sort o' thing ! " 
he muttered as he entered the house. " You 
awright Aggie ? " he said, softly, and she said 
that she was a little better. 

" Like a cup o' tea ? " he asked, preparing to 
lay the table, 

" Thenk you, 'Enery." 

He bustled about the room, preparing for the 
meal. " I tell you wot," he said. " You better 
stop in bed ter-morrer, an' I'll mike the break- 
fast ! You see if I don't ! I'm sorry I was 
nasty t' you t'-dy ! " 

She smiled at him, and assured him that it 
was all right. " You weren't reely nasty," she 
said, " it was me ! . . . " 

" Ow, naow, it weren't ! . . . See 'ere, Aggie, 
I tell you wot. We'll 'ave 'ash ter-morrer for 
dinner if you like, eih ? Or anythink you like, 
on'y down't you put yourself aht, see ! I do 
thet awright. You lie still an' have a rest." 
He came close to her, and put his arms about 
her, and pressed her closely to him. " So 'elp 
me, Aggie," he said, " I'm sorry I jawred you, 
I am, strife ! " 

" It's awright, 'Enry," she replied. " You 
didden mean no 'arm ! " 


Michael Halloran sat on a bank where the 
road bends round Shccgus Height. 

"Aw, now," said he, "but it's the sorraful 
wurl' when a fine young fella like meself has to 
lave his country an' go til a strange Ian' fur to 
earn a livin' ! " 

" It is that," replied Conn Maguire. 

" An' me willin' an' able til work, an' not a 
ban's turn can I git til do. It's not right ! " 

" It is not." 

The old man looked at the young man swiftly, 
and then turned away and looked out over the 
sea to where the Sligo mountains rise black and 
mistily to the sky. 

" You wurn't wantin' to be goin', I'd be 
thinkin' ? " he suggested. 

"It's not me that 'ud go, if I cud help it. But 
sure, there's nathin' fur me here. I've no Ian' 
or nathin'." 

" An' what wud ye do fur a bit o' Ian', Michael 
Halloran ? " 

" Sure, I'd run thrum here til Barnes Gap on 
8i F 


me han's an' knees widhout stappin', I'd be that 
eager til get it ! " 

The old man turned and looked at Michael as 
he spoke. " Wud yc marry me daughter Ellen ? " 
he demanded. 

Michael looked up at him in astonishment, and 
then laughed boisterously. 

" Is it makin' fun o' me ye are ? " he said. 

" I am not," replied Conn. 

Michael rose to his feet and crossed to the old 
man's side. " It's a quare wurl'," he said, " an' 
the quare people in it ! " 

" A'll not be stingy," said Conn. 

" Ye'd need not to be. Sure, yer daughter's 
no catch. Conn Maguire. She is not in 
sowl ! " 

" A'll give three cows til the man that marries 

" They'd be well earned ! " 

" Will ye take her if A give ye three cows wi' 
her ? " 

' ' Aw, the cows are all right . It 's the wumman ! 
She's oulder nor I am, an' she has the quare bad 
temper on her." 

Conn made a gesture of contempt. " Och," 
said he, " wud a fine young fella like yerself let a 
wumman put him out ? You're the lad cud 
control her well. Wuddn't ye give her a clout 
on the ear if she was imperent ? " 

" Aw, she's brave and handy wi' her lists her- 


self. A saw her knock John Tanner flat on his 
back wance wi' wan blow. She's strong ! . . ." 
" An' if she is, sure she's all the better able to 
help a man wi' a bit o' Ian'. It's the fine worker 
she is, an' the quare han' wi' cows. There's none 
o' yer fine wirnmen thrum the towns that cud 
houl' a candle to her wi' cows." 

Michael shifted about a little, and then stooped 
and picked up a stone, which he flung carelessly 
at nothing in particular. " If a fella had three 
cows," he said, " he'd want a bit o' Ian' til graze 
them on." 

" Mebbe," replied Conn, " he cud sell wan o' 
the cows an' get a bit o' Ian' out o' the Lan' 

Michael smiled cunningly. " Naw," he said, 
"he'd want til have three cows — he wudden want 
til sell any o' them for a while anyway. It's a 
bit o' lan' he'd be wantin' as well as three cows." 

" Mebbe he cud borry a bit o' lan' at a low 
rent. Mebbe," went on Conn, " I'd be willin' 
tn let him have the lend o' me medda beyant 
Harrison's farm fur a while." 

Michael shook his head. " He'd be wantin' the 
lan' fur himself," he said, " an' wudden want til 
be beholdin' tU no wan." 

Conn moralised. "It's not well for a young 
fella til be full o' pride," he said. 

" Cows must have grass," replied Michael, 
" an' ye can't have grass if ye haven't got lan'. 


Yer daughter's no match be herself fur the like 

> >> 
o me. 

They stood for a little while without speaking, 
the young man flicking the grass with his foot, 
the old man looking out over the sea and calcu- 
lating in his mind how best to secure a husband 
for his daughter at a small price. 

" Ye 're very hard," he said in a tone which 
was intended to flatter the young man on his 
possession of a keen sense of business. 

" A'm not hard," replied Michael, not dis- 
pleased, " but ye'd need til git up brave an' early 
in the mornin' til git the better o' me." 

" All give ye the three cows an' ye can graze 
them on the medda fur a year fur nathin'. ..." 

" A wudden take her at the price ! " 

The old man turned to go up the road as though 
all the bargaining were at an end. " Aw, well," 
he said, " A can't do better nor that, an' if ye 
don't like me terms ye '11 have til go to America." 
He moved away a little. " It'll be a quare pity 
fur a fine young fella like you to have to go to a 
foreign Ian' when there's a chance fur ye in yer 
own country." 

" That's what A'm thinkin' meself." 

" An' the chance when A'm dead o' steppin' 
intil me place." 

" Sure, ye '11 live a long time. Conn. Ye 're a 
long-lived family. Yer ould mother's not dead 
yet, let alone you." 



" Aw, ye nivir know ! " 

" Naw, ye don't, an' yc shudden take no 

" A'U make me will th^ morra mornin', laviii' 
ivrything til you an' ElLn." 

" Ye cud make another wan the day after." 

" Aw, A wudden do that." 

Michael kicked the life out of a dandelion. 
" Conn Maguire," said he emphatically, " if ye 
want til marry yer daughter til as fine a young 
fella as there is in this or anny other townlan' in 
the county Donegal, ye '11 have to give me the 
three cows an' the medda beyant Harrison's 
farm. A cuddn't marry her fur less. God knows 
she's the sore wumman til look at, an' the temper 
o' her is enough til drive a man til the asylum. 
A'U be goin' til the shippin' agent's at Bally- 
shannon the morra mornin' til make arrange- 
ments fur me passage til America, an' A'd like 
til know now what yer intentions are. A wun't 
take her fur less." 

" Ye '11 be sure an' have her ? Ye wun't back 
out of it ? " 

" Aw, A'll take her all right. Sure, wan 
wumman's as good as another if it comes to that, 
an' a wumman wi' cattle an' Ian' is better nor 
one wi' nathin' ! " 

" Ye 're a hard man," sighed Conn, " but A'll 
do what ye want. Will ye come wi' me now an' 
see Ellen ? " 


" Aw, sure there's time enough fur that." 

" Mebbe, she'd Hke ye to come and see her. 
Ye nivir know wi' wimmen ! " 

" Man, ye must be quare an' anxious til git 
rid o' her," said Michael. 

" Aw, indade, A'm not," replied Conn hurriedly. 
" Aw, no, A'm not. It wus herself made the 
suggestion. She wanted a man, she said, fur 
she's tired o' bein' an ould maid an' seein' all the 
young girls o' the place married aff an' no wan 
comin' anear her til ax her til do the same. 
' There's young Michael Halloran,' ses she, * that 
hasn't got much wit, God help him, but's a fine 
strappin' young fella ! ... It's aff til America 
he'll be soon if ye don't stap him. Affer him the 
three cows,' she said, ' an' he'll have me, the same 
young fella.' That wus what she said herself. 
It's not wantin' til git rid o' her that A am, but 
it's herself 's wantin' til be married, an' God knows 
that's nacherl enough fur a wumman." 

" Mebbe it is," said Michael. 

" Ye'd better come an' see her," urged Conn. 

" Aw, A'U not come now. Sure, there's no 
hurry. A want til have a bit o' dandher til 
meself. Tell her A'll come roun' the night an' 
coort her." 


A MAID came to the door and blew a cab whistle 
sharply ; and 01c George whipped up his horse 
and started off. 

" Ain't no good you goin' ! " said the crossing- 
sweeper. " She on'y blew once. It's a taxi she 

" I s'pose I can 'eng about if I like, funny ! " 
retorted Ole George. 

The crossing-sweeper shook his head. " Not 
much good doin' that," he said. " A taxi's sure 
to come up. On'y make you bad-tempered again, 
you know." 

Ole George drove off to " 'eng " about in the 
hope that, should a taxi-cab not turn up soon, the 
would-be passenger would tire of waiting and 
would hire his " growler." " No 'arm in tryin', 
is there ? " he exclaimed, as the dilapidated horse 
made an effort to canter. Before he had reached 
the end of the street a taxi-cab, smart and clean, 
came quickly round the corner and took up the 
man and woman waiting on the steps of the house 
where the maid had blown the whistle. Ole 



George pulled up sharply, with a sick look on his 
face. " Blast you ! " he said to the driver as the 
taxi-cab went by. 

" Go 'ome an' die ! " was the reply he received. 

" I tole you wot would 'appen," said the cross- 
ing-sweeper when Ole George returned to the 
stand. " It ain't no good you goin' ..." 

" I don't want no good advice, if you please. 
Not from you nor no one else ! " 

" Well, I was on'y saying' . . ." 

" Don't want to 'ear wot you was on'y sayin' ! 
Sick o' 'earin' wot you was on'y sayin' ! You 
get on wi' your crossin' an' leave rne t' look after 
me own affairs ! See ? " 

The old man dragged his broom towards the 
crossing. " Ain't much good my touchin' it," 
he said sadly. " These 'ere streets don't need 
much cleanin'. Too well made, they are. This 
job ain't 'alf wot it was ! " 

Ole George snorted sympathetically. " No job 
is, from wot I can see of it. Too much bloomin' 
progress t' please me ! " 

" Of course things is always goin' on, ain't 
they, George ? " 

" Goin' on ! " Ole George's face was wrinkled 
in disgust. " Wot's the good o' things goin' on 
if people gets left be'ind, eh ? Awnswer me that, 
will you ? " 

The crossing-sweeper wagged his head sagely. 
" Wot I'd like to know," he said, " is where this 


progress is goin' to stop. That's wot I'd like to 
know." He waited for a reply, but Ole George 
made no response. " Mind you," he continued, 
"I'm all for progress myself. I don't believe in 
gettin' rusty. . . . On'y wot I want to know isi 
w'ere's it goin' to stop ? " 

" Sime 'ere, old un," said Ole George, getting 
off the box-seat. "I don't earn me keep nah on 
a keb ! Strite, I don't ! Wot's the good o' 
progress t' me ? Oughta be a lor against 

" O' course," said the crossing-sweeper, " these 
'ere taxis do git about quickly, an' that ole 'orse 
of yourn . . ." 

" 'Ere, down't sy nothink about the 'orse ! 
It ain't 'is fault any more'n it's yours or mine. 
See ? Dessay, if he could talk, he could say a 
few things about us. We ain't much t' speak of, 
are we, eh ? " 

The crossing-sweeper was a mild-looking old 
man, with dim blue eyes and a short white beard 
trimmed in the traditional manner of a sailor's 
beard. One leg was a little shorter than the 
other, so that he limped. 

" You're too bloomin' meek, you are ! " 01c 
George shouted to him. " That's wot's the matter 
wi' you. Take things lyin' down, you do. Git 
your livin' took away, an' say ' Thank ye ' for it. 
Mike me sick, people like you do ! " 

" You ain't any better off for all your cursin' 


an' swearin', are you ? I've always been one for 
keepin' meself respectable. ..." 

Ole George kicked nothing with great violence. 
" Wot's the good o' bein' respectable if you ain't 
got no money, eh ? Awnswer me that, will 
you ? " The crossing-sweeper did not appear to 
be able to answer him that, so he devoted himself 
to sweeping the crossing with great vigour. " I 
tell you wot," continued Ole George. " We ain't 
clever, that's wot's the matter wi' us ! Don't 
need us no more. See ? Git out o' it ! That's 
wot they sy to you after they've used you up, an' 
you can't do no more. Git out o' it ! So 'elp 
me, wot a world ! " 

" No good complainin'. ..." 

" Give you the 'ump, things do ! " 

An old gentleman with two children passed 
over the crossing, and when they had done so 
the old gentleman handed a copper to each of the 
children so that they might give them to the 

" Oh, thank you, sir ! " exclaimed the crossing- 
sweeper ; and they passed on. 

" Go on," said Ole George, " show your 
bloomin' gratitood for tuppence ! " 

" The first I've 'ad to-day. ..." 

" Bit o' fat for you, eh ? " 

A whistle came from a block of flats. " There 
you are," he said, "another taxi! Down't 
nobody want a four-wheeler to-dy ? " 


The maid blew her whistle at regular intervals, 
but no taxi-cab canae. 

" You better go an' eng about," suggested the 
crossing-sweeper. " Taxis down't seem t' be in 
a nurry to come up." 

" Naow," exclaimed Ole George, " I wown't 
go. Let 'cr blow 'er bloomin' inside out if she 
likes ! " 

" You didden ought t' talk like that, you 
know. . . ." 

" 'Ow ought I to talk, then ? Gow up there 
an' be turned off, an' sy, ' Ow, thank you, sir ! ' 
Eih ? " 

" You down't do no good by bein' abusive." 

The whistle blew monotonously, but still no 
taxi came. 

" 'Ark at 'er ! 'Ope she likes the toon ! " 

" It ain't 'er fault." 

" It ain't no one's fault ! " 

There was a pause in the whistling, and then 
came sharply three calls. Ole George jumped at 
the cab. 

" So 'elp me," he shouted, as he drove off, " I 
got a job at last ! " 


He climbed to the top of the tram-car, and sat 
down on the back seat. There was a certain 
grimness in his look, such as one sees on the face 
of a man who has made up his mind to do some 
work that is likely to be unpleasant. 

" I shall go in," he said to himself, compressing 
his lips, " and if he says anything to me about it, 
I shall tell him straight out that I took a day off 
because I wanted to. See if I don't ! That's 
what I'll tell him ! I shan't lie about it ! " 

He reflected on the miserable spirit that would 
be shown by the other chaps were they in his 
situation. Morrison would be sure to snivel and 
say : " Please, sir, I've had a domestic bereave- 
ment ! " and Green would stutter with nervous- 
ness, and say that he had had a bad headache, or 
that his wife had had another, and that he hoped 
they would overlook it this once. . . . Snivellers ! 
None of that for him ! He was human same's 
they were ! He had impulses same's they had. 
... He remembered to have read somewhere 
that William Sharp once stayed away from the 



bank in which he was employed, and when asked 
for an explanation had said : " I went into the 
country to hear the cuckoo call ! " Something 
like a man, he was. . . . 

It was not as if he had ever done anything 
before. He hadn't ; but all the same he was 
human same's they were, and it was not human 
to go and work in a stuffy shop on a fine morning 
like yesterday was. What a fine day it had been ! 
The air was clean and clear even at Chalk Farm, 
and the trees were covered with young, green 
leaves, and the sparrows were making a devil of a 
jolly noise. . . . Well, could anyone blame him 
for turning away from the Holborn emporium to 
seek the joyfulness of Hampstead Heath ? Could 
they, now ? Of course they couldn't ! Not if 
they was human same's as he was ! If Toft, the 
shopwalker, beast that he was, said anything to 
him, he'd jolly well say something to Toft. Toft 
wasn't everybody, though he might think he was. 
Of course, they might sack him. . . . Well, 
what if they did ? He was human same's they 
were, and if they chose to sack a chap for being 
human — well, that just showed the sort of firm 
they were. He could get employment elsewhere. 

Anyhow, yesterday was worth the risk of the 
sack. Jolly fine it had been. Of course, he 
couldn't explain why it was that he had gone to 
the Heath instead of to the shop. Must have been 
impulse. Just impulse. That was it. Impulse ! 


He had climbed to the top of a tram-car, and had 
paid his fare — ^three ha'pence, it was — and then 
the impulse came, and before he quite knew what 
he was doing he was off the car and walking 
towards the Heath. It was a pity about the three 
ha'pence. . . . And if he had gone to the shop, 
what would he have done ? Put on a ridiculous 
frock-coat, its lapels full of pins, and spent the 
day selling stuff at two-three a yard to women 
who didn't seem to realise that he was human 
same's they were. Women ! Huh ! . . . He'd 
have had to help them to make up their silly 
minds. " We're selling quite a lot of this shade, 
madam ! " or "I think you'll find this suit your 
purpose, madam ! " or " Mmm ! No-o, madam, I 
don't think that's quite what you want. This is 
more like it ! " or " Shall I send it for you, 
madam ? No trouble at all, madam. What 
name and address, please ? " or " Anything else 
to-day, madam ? No ! Theng-cue ! " That on 
a day, like yesterday ! The smell of stuff at 
two-three a yard on a day like yesterday ! . . . 

He had stood on the Spaniards' Road, and 
had seen the pinnacles of City churches shooting 
up into clouds of smoke and mist. " Didden look 
bad, neither ! " And had looked towards the 
little humpy hills at Harrow that seemed like 
cushions for the sky. He had thrown stones into 
the Round Pond, and had set a dog barking 
furiously, to the consternation of an elderly lady. 


He had wandered round the ambling lanes, and 
had gaped at the cottage where Byron lived and 
the place where Keats heard the nightingale. He 
had seen a great blackbird . . . and then he had 
plucked whinblossoms, not without fear that he 
might be offending against the bye-law which 
forbade malicious injury to trees, shrubs, plants, 

" But it ain't malicious," he said to reassure 

He had crossed the horse-ride and had thrown 
himself down on a high grassy place, and had 
rolled about and slept and dreamt, and then 
rolled about and slept and dreamt again. He had 
helped three boys to catch tiddlers in the ponds 
beyond the horse-ride, and had learned much of 
the habits of that fish and the respective value 
of a plain tiddler and a tiddler with a red throat. 
. . . Clay had got on his boots and trousers and 
on his hands, and once he slipped on a wet bank, 
and his foot went into the water. The boys 
laughed, and he laughed too, and a girl who went 
by — a jolly girl, with long hair and bright eyes — 
laughed. Fine girl, she was. Looked nice! Not 
like the girls in the shop, white and yellow, and 
always got a headache. . . . He'd go up there 
again one day. . . . 

He had spent a fabulous sum on his midday 
meal at " The Bull and Bush " ; but then what 
was the good of doing a thing like that unless it 


was done well ? Might as well enjoy yourself 
proper ! He had given twopence to the waiter ! 
. . . And when the meal was over, no rushing 
back to the shop as if you hadn't got a minute to 
spare. He had strolled about the Heath quietly 
and comfortably, smoking a cigar that cost four- 
pence. It was a good cigar, too. He could tell 
that because the ash did not fall off for a long 
time. . . . 

He remembered that he sat on a fallen tree for 
a while and watched some children playing cricket, 
and once he ran and fielded the ball for them, and 
they asked him if he'd like a turn at the wicket, 
and when he'd looked round to see if anyone was 
watching he took the bat . . . and was bowled 
first ball. After that he had wandered into the 
Garden Suburb, and had cocked a critical eye at 
the houses. Not bad, they weren't. He saw a 
girl in a floppy dress. . . . Of course, it was clever 
and all that, but floppy dress was not his style. 
He preferred the style of the girl who had laughed 
when he fell into the pond. Smart, she was. Her 
skirt fitted closely about her shapely limbs, and 
she had on a pair of fine silk stockings that you 
could see through. . . . 

" That's what I call a girl ! " he said to him- 
self, as he thought of her. " I mean to say, that's 
a proper girl ! . . ." 

When he came out of the Garden Suburb he had 
wandered aimlessly but contentedly about. He 


had found his way to the little zoo at Golder's 
Hill, and had seen the kangaroo jump in the oddest 
fashion. There were queer-looking birds there, 
all coloured, and deer that came and nosed in 
your hand. ... He had walked into Golder's 
Park, and called for tea at the house that was 
formerly a mansion, but is now an eating-place. 
He sat there until the dusk came down, and then 
he walked about chi-iking a girl or two. . . . 
At supper-time he had gone home ; but he sat so 
long in his room thinking of the girl who had 
laughed when he fell in the pond that he forgot 
to go down to supper, and, rather than disturb 
Mrs. Carson, he went out to get something to eat. 
Chalk Farm had an ugly look last night, and it 
reeked ! He had suddenly become depressed and 
unhappy, and had had a strange inclination to 
cry. . . . 

Well, all that took place yesterday. Now for 
Toft. Of course the firm would be wild when 
they knew, and, after all — well, he was human 
same's they were. Speaking strictly, he ought 
not to have stayed away from the shop. He was 
prepared to admit that. But there was an excuse 
for him. He hadn't had much of a life. . . . 
How would they like it, eh ? The stink of stuff 
at two-three a yard all day ! How would they 
like it ? If Toft began bullying him ! . . . 

He entered the shop, and when he had taken 
off his outdoor coat, and put on his official frock- 



coat, he prepared to enter his department. There 
was a heavy smell of carpet in the room. 

"Co, what a fug ! " he exclaimed to himself. 

Toft eyed him severely. 

" You didn't turn up yesterday ! " he said, as 
if he were giving news. " How is that ? " 

" No, sir, I " 

" Eh ? " 

" The truth is, sir " 

" Well ? " 

" Please, sir, I wassen feehn' very well ! " 

" Oh ! You ought to have sent a message. 
You know that, don't you ? " 

" Yessir ! I'm sorry, sir ! " 

" Well, don't let it occur again — see ! — or 
you'll hear more about it ! Look sharp, now ; 
we're very busy ! " 

" Yessir ! Thank you, sir ! I'm very sorry ! " 

" All right. Get to your counter, will you ? 
There's a lot to do ! " 

" Yessir ! " 

" Of course, we shall stop a day's salary ! " 

He looked up at Mr. Toft. " Yessir," he said. 


I CLIMBED to the top of Lurigedan, and while I 
lay there panting for breath, for God knows I am 
no climber, Murty came to me. 

" It's a brave day ! " he said in greeting. 

" It is, indeed ! " I replied. 

He lay down by my side and gazed out towards 
the sea. 

" But, sure, it'll not keep up," he said after a 
little while. " It'll be soft the morrow."ji 

" How do you know, Murty ? " I asked. 

" It's the way it always is here. Brave an' 
fine one day, an' rainin' the next. Ye '11 be goin' 
away soon ? " 

I nodded my head. 

" On Saturday, mebbe." 

" Yes, on Saturday, Murty." 

He sat up and caught hold of his toes with his 
fingers, and swayed himself about for a few 

" It's well to be you," he said, " to^^be goin' 
over to Englan'." 

"Why, Murty?" 



" Ah, sure, ye see things there. It's the quare 
lonely place this to be stayin', an' you not seein' 
a livin' sowl thrum one day's end til another, 
barrin' the people ye see thrum the time ye 're 
born til the time ye die, an' them not knowin' 
anny more nor yourself, God help them ! " 

" It's lonely everywhere, Murty," I said. 
" Lonelier in London than it is here." I told 
him how when I had gone to London first, a boy 
of sixteen, I had stood outside the Mansion House 
one Saturday and cried because there were six 
or seven million men and women about me and I 
did not know one of them. " Here you know 
everybody," I said. 

" Ah, but you can see things in towns," he 
urged. " There's nathin' to see here on'y an 
ould sweety shop, an' McClurg's public-house, an' 
the long car comin' down the road wi' the mails. 
I'll not be stoppin' here once I get the chance to 
go away." 

I said that I should have thought he would like 
to be a farmer, but he shook his head vigorously. 
" Norra bit o' me '11 do that," he said. " There's 
nathin' to do here but work thrum the dawn o' 
day til the dark o' night, an' in the winter time 
it's that cowl' wi' the win' blowin' thrum the 
sea enough to blow the head aff ye that ye can't 
go out, an' have to be sittin' crouchin' over the 
fire, God help ye, to keep yerself warm. It's 
no life that for a man, but a life for a dumb baste 


that has nathin' to do but ate the grass, an' he 
down an' wait for the butcher to come an' take 
it til the slaughter-house. If ye wur to go into 
the village now, ye'd see the fellas lyin' up agin 
the curfew tower, wi' their han's in their pockets, 
an' nathin' at all in their heads but wonderin' 
v/hat to do wi' themselves afore bedtime, an' not 
findin' no answer ! " 

I became inept. " The reading-room," I 

" Readin'-room ! " he exclaimed scornfully. 
" Sure, what's the good o' a readin'-room til 
annyone, wi' a lot o' ould papers in them ? Ye 
can't go into a readin'-room ivry night in the 
week. I never was in the one in Cushendall 
barrin' once, an' there was nathin' there but ould 
Christian Her'lds, an' religious papers that make 
ye sick to read them. The way they ram Jases 
down your throat is enough to send a man to 
the bad. I'll be off to the town as soon as I can ! " 

I talked to Murty about rural depopulation and 
the land-hunger. 

" Ah, people want land right enough," he said, 
" but it's a sore lonely life to lead workin' it." 
He stood up as he spoke and looked down into the 
valley. " Wud ye just look at ould Barney 
O'Hara down there," he said. He pointed to the 
fields lying at the foot of Lurigedan, and I rose 
and walked to his side. I saw an old man, very 
bent, binding hay. 


"D'ye think I want to be the like o' that when 
I'm his age ? " said Murty. " He can't read or 
write, that ould lad, an' he knows nathin', an' 
he works that hard he's never had time to find 
anny thing out. All he can do is work his Ian'. 
If ye talk til him about annythin' else, he gets 
moidhered. An' it's the way wi' all the men 
here. They can't enjoy theirselves because there's 
nathin' til enjoy. If I was in a town now, I 
woulden need to be goin' to bed at half-eight or 
nine because I'm tired o' doin' nathin'. Ye can go 
to a music-hall in a town for tuppence, an' hear 
all the latest songs, but ye never hear nathin' here 
except mebbe in the summer time when a visitor 
like yerself comes, an' then the songs is ould ! " 

" Will you go to Belfast ? " I asked. 

" No, I'll go to Glasgow. There's more value 

" Do you know anyone in Glasgow ? " 

" Ay, I have a brother there. My brother 
Ned. It was him toul' me Glasgow was better 
value nor Bilfast. It was him made the quare 
fool o' me one time when he was here over the 
head of a song I was singin'. Says he, ' That 
song's brave an' ould ! ' An' me on 'y heard it a 
wee while afore he come ! " 

" What does your brother do in Glasgow ? " 
I asked. 

" He's a barman." 

" And how long has he to work ? " 


" He begins at eight in the mornin' an' he laves 
aff at eleven at night ; but sure he gets a half- 
holiday once a week, an' he has all day on Sunday, 
for they won't let you drink on a Sunday in 
Glasgow ; an' he goes til a music-hall ivry week, 
an' sometimes he goes til two m one day, for some 
places has two houses a night, an' you can do the 
two for fourpence in the gallery. That's cheap 
enough. It 'ud take more'n fourpence to give 
you pleasure in Cushendall ! " 

" But, Murty," said I, " this is a finer place 
than Glasgow. This hill and the valley and the 
sea cannot be compared with Glasgow and your 
brother's foul -smelling public -house." 

" Ah, what's the good of scenery in the winter 
time ? " he replied. " Ye get tired o' lukkin' at 
them all the year round. Ye want a change. In 
a town, now, ye get change. There's crowds o' 
people an' all the latest songs. ... It's all very 
fine to talk, sir, but Ned doesn't want to come 
back here, an' I do want to get away oura this. 
That tells, doesn't it ? " 

We stood there regarding the figure of Barney 
O'Hara as he patiently bound the bundles of hay, 
and I thought to myself how sad a thing it was 
that the boy by my side should long to fling him- 
self into the unutterable hideousness of Glasgow 
out of the incomparable beauty of Antrim, and 
when I had thought that I turned to Murty and 
told him so. 


"It's not sad at all," he replied. " Ye'd be 
wantin' the town yerself if ye were livin' here all 
the time. It's right an' easy to be talkin' the 
way you're talkin' when you on'y come for a 
trip, but ye'd be talkin' differ 'nt, I can tell ye, 
if ye lived here all the year. Come on," he said 
suddenly, " an' I'll race ye down the grassy slope." 

We half ran, half fell down the grassy slope, 
and in a short time we came to the field where 
Barney O'Hara was binding hay. 

" That's a brave evenin' ! " said Murty to the 
old man, as we ran by. 

" Ay, it is," replied the old man without looking 

" Ould footer!" murmured Murty as he ran 


He and I sat on a scat in Hyde Park, and watched 
the drift of fashionable folk go by. He was a 
sniall, neat man, with a pleasant, pale face and 
soft blue eyes, in which there was a whimsical, 
wondering look. His mouth was puckered up 
when I first saw him, but he was not whistling : 
he seemed to me to be exclaiming in astonishment. 
He gazed about him very eagerly ; he appeared 
to be unable to look at the fashionable folk too 
closely. Now and then, when some resplendent 
man or beautiful woman went by, his lips would 
pucker as if he were saying, " Oh ! " to himself ; 
and his eyes gleamed like those of a puzzled child. 
He turned and spoke to me quite simply, without 
self-consciousness, as if it were natural for two 
men who had never seen each other before to 
speak and be neighbourly. 

" You can't get over it," he said, " they're 
nice-lookin' ! I mean to say, you can't 'elp 
lookin' at 'em. That young girl that jus' passed 
now, she was nice-lookin', wasn't she ? " 

I looked at the retreating form of a tall, 


dark girl, with slender limbs, and nodded my 

" I don't mean to say she's beautiful," he 
continued. " Not what you'd call beautiful I 
But nice-lookin' ! Eh ? Walks nice, an' the 
way she talked, too ! That was nice ! An' 'er 
'air, an' the way she was dressed ! There's a lot 
of 'em about 'ere like that. Nice-lookin' ! Got 

nice 'ands ! " He held out his hands, as he 

said this, and I saw that they were hard and rough 
and red ; the nails were broken and distorted, and 
the knuckles were knubbly. He dropped his 
hands to his side, and laughed. " Not like mine, 
eh ? " he said. 

A boy went by, exquisitely tailored, and at his 
side was a girl of seventeen. She was smiling at 
something the boy said to her, and as she passed 
us, she put her hand up to her loose hair and 
flung it out so that it fell from her shoulder, and 
down her back. It was thick and brown, and it 
shone with beautyi I forgot the little man at my 
side, until I heard him speak again. 

" Now, she's nice-lookin'," he said. " I mean 
to say she's real nice, she is ! An' 'e was nice- 
lookin' too ! Well-set-up young feller, I call 
'im ! Make a nice pair, they will ! Shouldn't 
be a bit surprised if they 'it it off ! " He remained 
silent for a few moments, and then began again. 
" I s'pose they bin to church together, eh ? Yes, 
I expect so ! They all go to church about 'ere ! 


You know ! Church Parade they call this ! 
Mind you, I don't blame 'em. You can't 'elp 
likin' 'em when you look at 'em ! Nice-lookin' 
an' that ! You know, I can't make it out ! 
I mean to say, 'ow is it ? They ain't wot you'd 
call beautiful — some on 'em downright ugly, but 
some'ow they're nice to look at. You know ! 
Walks nice an' talks nice, and got nice 'ands ! — 
I mean to say, look at me now ! I'm not like 
them. I mean to say, if I 'ad the clothes they 
'ave, I couldn't carry it off, you know. Look at 
my 'ands I Why, I couldn't wear gloves on 'em ! 
An' I don't talk the way they do. An' walk ! 
Well, I mean to say, it's silly to talk about it, 
ain't it ? An' my wife, too ! — She was nice- 
lookin' when I first knew 'er. Proper nice- 
lookin', she was ! I mean to say she was as 
nice-lookin' as any 'ere, considerin' ! Why, you 
wouldn't believe wot my wife was like when she 
was a young girl. You know ! Jaunty, she 
was ! Walked about like any think, an' did 'er 
'air nice, an' all that ! But she ain't like it now, 
you know ! I mean to say, she's all right, reely, 
only some'ow . . . That young girl we see jus' 
now with that boy, she'll be nice-lookin' when she 
gets to be my wife's age, same's she is now. Only 
older ! That's all. She'll do 'er 'air nice, an' 
'ave nice 'ands, an' talk nice. Don't matter wot 
age she is, she'll be nice-lookin'. Lots of old 
'uns 'ere ! Sixty if they're a day, some of 'em ! 


Only they don't look old ! Of course, they make 
emselves up a bit, but it ain't all that ! Even 
when they don't niakc 'emselves up, they look 
nice. You know wot I mean ! Now, my wife, 
she's not like that. She's not more'n forty, but 
she looks a good bit more. Don't seem to take 
no pride in 'erself. 'Er 'air — well, of course, it 
ain't to be expected, not with all she 'as to do ! 
I mean to say, it ain't reasonable to expect it. 
Only ! . . . Well, you know the way it is your- 
self ! I can't help thinkin' of wot she was like 
when I first knew 'er ! See ! Proper nice-lookin' 
she was ! An' that partic'lar ! " 

The Park was crowded now, and the fashion- 
able folk pressed close to us, as they went by. 
Beautiful women, beautifully clad, passed to and 
fro in an odour of fine perfumes. The little man 
drew his breath through his nostrils. 

" That's nice, that is," he exclaimed. " I bet 
that cost a bit ! Did you 'ear the way their 
dresses rustle, eh ? Silk ! I often come 'ere of a 
Sunday mornin' an' spend a penny on a seat. 
Fair treat, I call it ! Of course, my wife she 'as 
to be cookin' the dinner, else I'd bring 'er, too. 
Do 'er good, it would. I mean to say it 'ud do 
anyone good. It's nice to see people lookin' 
nice ! Any'ow, that's wot I think ! I often say 
to 'er, if she was to try a bit more — only it ain't 
fair to say that. She ain't got the time ! Stands 
to reason she ain't. We've 'ad seven children. 


Two of 'cm dead, thank God ! I don't mean to 
say I'm glad they're gone, only — well, you know 
yourself, they got the best of it, ain't they, now ? 
An' it makes things a bit easier for 'or. It's a 
bit of a nandful, seven ! An' the cookin' an' the 
cleanin' an' all that. You know, I don't wonder 
she don't take no pride in 'erself. I don't reely ! 
I dessay she thinks I'm as bad as 'er. She 'ad 
nice 'ands, too. I mean to say she was very 
partic'lar about 'er 'ands. Rub lemons on 'em 
every night to make 'em white. An' glycerine ! 
■Ever 'card of that ? Keeps 'cm soft an' white. 
She read about it in a paper. An' do the grate 
with gloves on. I often say to 'er if she'd only 
kep' it up, she'd be as nicc-lookin' as any of 'em. 
But she didn't ! An' I don't wonder at it neither. 
Not with wot she 'as to do. Only ! . . . They 
do it all right. I mean to say their 'air don't get 
the way 'ers is ! Mind, I'm not sayin' a word 
against 'er. She an' me's all right, you know. 
I don't mean to say we don't 'ave no words now 
an' again, but on the 'ole, we're all right. On the 
'ole ! Proper pals we are. I tell 'er all about 
this every Sunday. She thinks same as me 
about it. She's got too much to do. It ain't 
'er fault, of course. I mean to say, she ain't 
to blame. An' it ain't my fault. Jus' can't be 
'elped ! " 

The drift of fashionable folk had thinned, and 
the little man murmured something about having 


to go. He gazed about him in the manner of one 
who is eager to take a last good look at treasured 
scenes, and then rose and stretched himself. 

" I wouldn't miss comin' 'ere for anythink," 
he said, and added, " Good-day, sir ! " and went 
his way. 


The funeral procession from the girl's home to 
the graveyard was due to begin at half-past two, 
but long before that hour the crowd of mourners 
began to collect. They stood about the entrance 
to the lane leading to the churchyard, and waited. 
The home of the dead girl faced the lane, and the 
procession, therefore, would reach its journey's 
end in a few moments from the time when it began 
to move. Townsmen and neighbours mingled 
with men from the country and the hills, and 
fishermen from the bay where the girl was 
drowned ; and each man as he came up to a 
group of his acquaintances spoke of the terrible- 
ness of the disaster, and then the talk circled 
round the affairs of the small town. 

John Mawhinney came along the old road to 
Ballyshannon, and when he was by the lane, he 
hailed James O'Hara. 

" How're ye, James ? " he said. 

James O'Hara, a lean, foxy-looking man, turned 
at the sound of Mawhinney's voice. " Och, A'm 


just middlin'," he replied. " AVe the quare cowl 
on me ! How is yourself ? " 

" Ah, A'm not so bad. Man-a-dear, this is a 
tarr'ble sad thing about this young girl ! " 

" Aye, it is that. Man, A mind her when she 
was that height, the same wee girl ! " He allowed 
his hand to fall to the level of his knees as he 
spoke. " An' a smart wee girl she was, too ! 
Aye ! She always had an answer for ye, what- 
ever ye said, she was that sharp ! " 

He looked up as he spoke, and saw John 
McClurg approaching. " Is that you, John ? " 
he said. 

McClurg, a large, moon-faced man, with little 
smiling eyes, came puffing up to them. 

" It is surely," he replied to O'Hara's greeting. 

" A saw ye in the market the fair day," said 
Mawhinney, " but ye wurn't lukkin', an' ye 
didden see me. Did ye do well wi' yer cattle ? " 

" Ah, A didden do so bad. A might 'a' done 
better, an' A might 'a' done worse ! " 

" Did ye sell thon wee heifer ye had wi' ye ? " 

" A did not. A wudden take the price " 

O'Hara tapped him on the arm. " A s'pose ye 
come to the funer'l ? " he said. 

John McClurg glanced across the road to the 
door of the house where the dead girl lay. 
" Well," he said, " A thought A wud just dander 
into the town an' show me respect til the dead, 
God rest her sowl ! " The three men raised their 


hats at his prayer. " What time docs it begin ? " 
he asked. 

" They wur talkin' about half-after-two," 
repHed Mawhinney, " but A'm thinkin' it'll be 
later 'n that. Sure, the mail train's not in thrum 
Bilfast yet, an' there's fren's comin' thrum there 
an' thrum Derry, too, an' they'll be wantin' their 
denner when they git here. It'll be three o'clock 
afore iver they stir out o' the dure ! " 

" Aye, it will that," said James O'Hara, and 
then he turned and spoke to John McClurg. 
" Wur ye wantin' much for yer wee heifer ? " he 

McClurg bit a piece of tobacco off a long twist 
of dark villainous stuff, and when he had chewed 
it in his mouth a while, he spat yellow juice over 
the kerb, and then said, " You might think A 
was wantin' too much, an' A might think meself 
A was wantin' too little ! " 

" A saw her meself," exclaimed Mawhinney, 
" afore she went intil the sea, laughin' an' jokin' 
like annythin' ! Aw, God save us all thrum a 
death the like o' her death ! ' 

" They wur a quare long time findin' her ! " 

" They wur." 

" Wud ye be wantin' five poun's fur yer wee 
heifer, John McClurg ? " said James O'Hara. p-^ 

" A wud, indeed, an' a bit more on top of it ! " 

" They foun' her jus' where she went down," 
continued Mawhinney, in the voice of a man who 



is reciting an oft -told tale. " Man, it's qiiare the 
way the body returns like that ! " 


" Who's thon man wi' the tall hat an' the long 
coat on him, d'ye know ? " asked one that stood 
by of Mawhinney, as a man in a frock coat 
knocked at the door. 

" A nivir seen him afore," replied Mawhinney. 
" He's a stranger in this town, A'm thinkin'. 
D'ye know him, James ? " 

"A do not," replied O'Hara. " Mebbe he's 
come be the train. The mail's in now. Thonder's 
Patrick Magrath with the mail-car comin' roun' 
the corner ! " 

" Ye 're mebbe right ! " Mawhinney resumed 
the recital of his tale. " Did ye see the piece in 
the Derry paper about her ? " he said. " Thon 
was the quare bit. An' there was a piece of 
portry be the young wumman in the post-affice ! " 

" Aye, A saw that. It was quare an' nice. A 
didden know thon wumman cud do the like o' 
that ! " 

" Ah, sure she's in Government sarvice, issen 
she ? . . . " 

" The paper said she was the quare, clivir, wee 
girl, an' tuk a lotta prizes at the school in Derry 
her da sent her to. They must 'a' spent a power 
o' money on her trainin' ! " 

" They did that. They nivir grudged her 
nathin'. It's a quare pity of them ! " 


" Aye, it only shows ye shuddcn make a god of 
yer childher !....'* 

Two young men, one of whom carried a costly 
wreath in his hands, went up to the door, and 
presently were admitted to the house. 

" Fur dear sake, luk at thon wreath ! " ex- 
claimed John Mawhinney. " Man, thon must 'a' 
cost somethin' ! " 

"Aye, it's thrum the young men at the 
Y.M.C.A. She was goin' to be married to one o' 
them. Did ye nivir hear about it ? " 

" Naw. What wus his name ? " 

" A think it wus young McCracken ! " 

" What ! Thon lad ? " 

" Aye. It'll be a cut up for him, this ! j . . 
John McClurg, will ye take six poun' ten for yer 
heifer ? " 

" Mebbe A wud if it was affcred to me ! . . ." 

" There's manny a Cathlik would be willin' to 
give a wreath, too, A'm thinkin' ! " said John 

" Aye, that's true enough. Sure, there's no 
room for bigitry where death is ! . . . Wur ye 
thinkin' o' makin' me the affer, James ? " 

O'Hara walked a little way from the group, 
and then, squirting tobacco juice before him, 
returned to it. " Ah, A was just wondherin' if 
ye wud take it if it was affered t' ye. A wudden 
affer more'n five poun' for it meself ! . . ." 

" Ah, well, it wudden be no good you afferin' 


that amount. A wudden part wi' it fur the 
money ! " 

" There's a brave crowd here now," said 
O'Hara, turning towards the crowd. " It'll be 
a big procession, A'm thinkin' ! " 

" It will that. But A've seen bigger. There 
was the time Dr. Cochrane died. D'ye mind that ? 
That was a procession an' a half ! " 

" Aye, it was indeed. Near a mile long that 
was ! . . ." 

The door of the house opened, and a number of 
persons entered. 

" They'll be startin' soon," said Mawhinney. 

" Ah, well, God help her, she'll soon be oura all 
this. It's the long sleep til the Day o' Judgment ! " 

" Ye 're right there. Ye are indeed ! . . ." 

The door slowly re-opened, and men came 
forth bearing the yellow coffin on their shoulders. 
A great quietness descended upon the village 
street, and each man in it removed his hat and, 
if he were a Catholic, crossed himself and prayed 
for the repose of the dead girl's soul. Here and 
there a woman wrapped her shawl about her face, 
and wept. The bearers carried the coffin across 
the street to the lane leading to the churchyard, 
and the people in the street fell in behind, and 
marched slowly towards the grave. A bell tolled 
softly, and in the house from which the body had 
just been borne a woman was heard crying and 


" A'll give yc six poiin's fur yer wcc licifcr," 
said James O'Hara, as the body went by. 

" Ah, God rest her sowl ! " murmured McChirg, 
marking himself with the sign of the cross on the 
head and breast. " A cudden take less nor six 
poun' ten ! " 

" A cudden give more nor six poun' ! . . . " 

" Well, ye '11 not get it fur the price. It's six 
poun' ten or nathin' ! " 

" Ye 're the hard man to bargain wi' ! . . ," 

" A'm not hard at all ! . . . Mebbe, they're 
better dead young nor dead oul' ! " 

" Will ye not budge yer price ? " 

" A will not ! " 

" They're in the graveyard now, . . . Come on 
down til Maloney's public-house, an A'll sale the 
bargain wi' ye." 


There were many terrors hidden in the heart of 
Mr. Timms ; but they all came from one dreadful 
thought. Supposing that one day he should be 
unable to work, what would become of him ? If 
he were to fall ill, or meet with an accident, or if 
his employers were suddenly to become bankrupt, 
what would become of him ? He would waken 
at night, crying out in fear because of some 
horrible dream in which he saw himself dismissed 
from the service of Messrs. Carlingford and Com- 
pany for one reason or another. Sometimes it 
was because his accounts had become muddled ; 
and when he dreamt that dream, he invariably 
hastened early to the office and in a sort of delirium, 
went through his ledgers to make certain that 
they were in order, that the last figure had been 
entered, the last total calculated. At other times, 
he dreamt that old age had come upon him, and 
that his employers had, with regret, informed him 
that they required the services of a younger and 
more vigorous man. 

In such dreams, they would say to him that he 



had been a loyal servant and that they were very 
reluctant to part with him, but, they would add, 
competition was very keen, and the firms that 
survived had to employ the sharp-witted. They 
always regretted that their finances did not 
permit of a pension being paid to him, but they 
begged to be allowed to present him with the sum 
of twenty pounds and their good wishes for his 
future happiness. . . . From such dreams, Mr. 
Timms would awake in a sweat ; he would spring 
out of bed, and run swiftly to his mirror to see 
whether grey hairs had grown up like tares 
among wheat to destroy him. ... If he were 
to meet with an accident or to become sick, 
Messrs. Carlingford and Company would probably 
continue to pay his salary to him for a few months. 
. . . They had been known to pay a salary to 
a man who was ill for six months. . . . But 
supposing Mr. Timms were to be unwell for more 
than six months ? Supposing he were to contract 
some incurable complaint ? . . . They could not 
be expected to continue paying a salary to him 
for the remainder of his life ! And then his 
savings would begin to shrink. And when they 
had gone ! . . . 

What Mr. Timms feared most of all was that 
some day he might give way to his moods. At 
intervals, he had an extraordinary desire to seek 
adventures. Generally, these desires came at the 
end of each quarter when work was heaviest. He 


would be sitting quietly at the desk at nine or 
ten o'clock at night, perhaps (for at the end of 
the quarter there was a great deal of overtime 
work), and suddenly, just when he was busy 
writing " E. and O, E." at the foot of an account, 
he would feel something inside him urging him 
to do the most preposterous things. The some- 
thing would say, " Why don't you go out and 
enjoy yourself ? Go to a theatre or a music-hall 
or a concert or a public-house ! Do something 
to show that you are alive ! . . ." All of which 
was extremely silly ; for supposing he were to take 
the advice of the something inside him ! Sup- 
posing he were to go to the public -house, for 
example, and were to get drunk ! Well, that 
would be dreadful ! Mr. Carlingford might see 
him just at the moment he was reeling out of the 
public-house into the street ; and he might think 
that he was in the habit of getting drunk. . . . 
Supposing, too, he were to get drunk, he might 
get into trouble with the police. . . . Even if 
he were to escape the eye of Mr. Carlingford, and 
were not to get into trouble with the police, he 
would be certain to wake in the morning with a 
very bad headache. He might be tempted to lie 
in bed longer than was right, and so he should be 
late at the office, and a red line would be drawn 
against his name in the attendance book — a thing 
that had never happened, except on foggy morn- 
ings, during the whole of his career in the service 


of Messrs. Carlingford and Company. Even if 
he were not so ternpted, the headache would 
make him less able accurately and expeditiously 
to perform his work, and Mr. Carlingford might 
notice this. Mr. Carlingford would be sure to 
observe an error or a piece of carelessness in his 
work ; much more likely, indeed, to do so in his 
case than in the case of Morrison, who frequently 
came late to the office and very often made mis- 
takes. That was the penalty of being strictly 
accurate ; an error was more noticeable than in 
the case of the careless. Mr. Carlingford would 
be sure to say, " Hilloa, Timms, what's this ? 
A mistake ! You're not up to the mark this 
morning ! . . ." And then they would begin to 
make remarks, Mr. Carlingford and the Company, 
and shake their heads, and say, " Timms is getting 
on in years, or getting slack, or is less careful than 
he used to be. . . ." 

That's what would come of doing anything 
so silly as was suggested by the thing inside 

Mr. Timms was always able to point this out 
clearly to the thing inside him, but he was 
mightily afraid of it all the same ; for he suspected 
that some day it might be too strong to be reasoned 
with. He remembered with alarm that on one 
occasion, when he was quite a young man, it had 
startled him out of his wits by suggesting to him 
that he should marry a very nice young person 


who had been employed as a typist by Messrs. 
Carlingford and Company. It had carried him so 
far off his balance that he had actually spoken 
to her in office hours about matters that were not 
really relevant to the affairs of Messrs. Carling- 
ford and Company. He shuddered when he 
thought that one afternoon the Company had 
come in quickly and unexpectedly and found him 
standing by Miss Gordon's side. Fortunately he 
had the presence of mind to take up a batch of 
bills, and pretend to be explaining them to her ; 
but he received such a shock that he had never 
ventured to talk to her quite so carelessly again. 
Once he had taken Miss Gordon to tea, and they 
had talked for a long while about the office. 
Then Miss Gordon had invited him to her home, 
and she and her mother (for she was fatherless) 
had talked so long about the office that it had 
grown late, and so they asked him to stay to 
supper. Then, one Saturday, he asked Miss 
Gordon if she would care to go to a theatre with 
him, and she had said she would. They went to 
see a thing called " lolanthe," which he could not 
help thinking was somewhat foolish ; but Miss 
Gordon said it was awfully nice, and that the 
girl who played the part of lolanthe was awfully 
nice. She had said she was awfully fond of 
Gilbert and Sullivan, the gentlemen, he dis- 
covered from the programme, who were respon- 
sible for " lolanthe. " She had seen several of their 


pieces, and liked them awfully much : she thought 
they were all awfully nice ; and her mother thought 
so too. . . . 

He took her to tea at a tea-house in the Strand, 
and when they separated, she told him that she 
thanked him very much, and that she had had an 
awfully nice time. 

He remembered it so well. He had gone home 
that evening feeling that a life passed continually 
in the society of Miss Gordon would be very 
pleasant. He remembered distinctly the sense 
of loneliness he had had as he ascended the stairs 
of the lodging-house in Camberwell where he 
lived ; how dingy his bed-sitting-room had seemed, 
and how tasteless and sloppy Miss Squibb's food 
was. The thing inside him kept saying, " Risk 
it, man, risk it ! Two can live as cheaply as one. 
Risk it, man, risk it ! " He had finished the 
repulsive food provided by Miss Squibb, and then 
had gone into the street again. He remembered 
that he walked aimlessly about, listening to the 
thing inside him saying, " Risk it, man, risk it ! " 
until, to his amazement, he found himself stand- 
ing outside the door of Miss Gordon's home. His 
hand was raised to the knocker, when suddenly 
he said to the thing inside him, " But supposing 
I were to lose my job, or fall sick or something, 
what would become of me with a wife and perhaps 
children ? " And his hand had fallen away from 
the knocker, and he had turned and fled back to 


the dingy bed-sitting-room that he hired from 
Miss Squibb. . . . 

Miss Gordon went away from the office of 
Messrs. Carhngford and Company soon after 
that, and he never saw her again. He remembered 
that he had taken her hand as she went out of 
the office on the last day of her engagement, and 
that he said " Good-bye " to her, and wished her 
good luck. He remembered that she had looked 
up at him for a moment or two, with a queer, 
questioning look in her eyes, and that she had 
stood in silence as if she were waiting for him to 
say something else. And then she had gone 
away. ... He supposed she had married. 
Perhaps she was dead ! . . . 

That was the kind of thing the thing inside 
him was always urging him to do. Morrison had 
married, and Morrison was poor. Of course, 
Mr. Timms, too, was poor ; but that was not 
the point. Morrison was harassed ; Morrison's 
wife was always ill, or one of the children was ill, 
or something or other. Then one of the children 
died. ... Of course, he was very sorry for 
Morrison when that happened, but he could not 
help thinking how fortunate he was to be spared 
all that trouble. When he reflected on the 
approach of old age and disaster, he was com- 
forted to some extent by the thought that such 
things would be worse for Morrison than they 
were likely to be for him. 


One day, a junior clerk in the office, a very nice 
young man by the name of Cook, pitched his pen 
on the face of a clean page of a ledger, and swore 
horribly. " I'm fed up with this life ! " he said, 
and, swinging himself off his desk, he went to 
the coat-peg and began to put on his coat and 

" But it's not lunch-time yet," said Mr. Timms 
to him wonderingly. 

" I know that," Cook replied. " I'm off. I'm 
going to Canada, or hell, or somewhere out of 
this ! I'm sick of clerking ! " 

Mr. Timms had asked questions about Canada. 
Had Cook any friends there ? Had he 
been promised, definitely promised, employment 
there ? What prospects had he ? To his horror. 
Cook answered that he had not any friends in 
Canada, that he had not any definite or in- 
definite promise of work there, and that his 
prospects were nil. 

" But it's madness," he urged, " to throw up 
a fairly safe job for a risky thing like Canada ! " 

" You've got to take risks sometimes," said 
Cook obstinately. 

" Wait till you're older," replied Mr. Timms, 
" and you'll know better." 

And then Cook had said a remarkable thing. 
" Yes, I know," he answered gloomily. " They 
always say that, and then when you're old you're 
too cowardly to know better ! " 


Mr. Timms was too busy trying to understand 
what this meant to notice that Cook had gone 
off, and it was not until Mr. Carlingford called 
for the young man that he realised what had 

" Where's Cook ? " Mr. Carlingford demanded 
angrily, for he had been kept waiting a long time, 
a minute or so. 

" I think he's gone to Canada, sir ! " replied 
Mr. Timms. 

" To where ? " exclaimed Mr. Carlingford. 

Mr. Timms explained what had happened. 

" Are his books all right ? " said Mr. Carling- 
ford ; and when he had been reassured, he nodded 
his head, and went back to his office. " Silly 
young ass ! " he said. 

Cook had written to Mr. Timms some months 
afterwards, and had stated that he was getting 
on well. " It was rotten at first," he wrote, 
" but this is worth it ! Why don't you come, 
too ? " 

Mr. Timms replied to Cook's letter, and stated 
very precisely that it would be absurd to give up 
a comparatively safe post for a positively un- 
certain thing. It had happened that Cook had 
succeeded, but there was no guarantee that he, 
Timms, would also succeed. He was older than 
Cook. . . . 

Then the dreadful thing happened. Messrs. 
Carlingford and Company became bankrupt, and 


Mr. Timms was without employment. In a kind 
of desperation, he tramped from office to office 
in search of work, but always he was told that a 
younger man was required. He would go home 
in the evening and calculate the amount of his 
savings. He quitted the house of Miss Squibb, 
and took a cheaper lodging. He estimated the 
number of weeks he could live on a pound a week 
without work, and found that his savings would 
suffice for a year and a half. After that ? . . . 
He became frenzied when six months had gone 
by, and he was still unemployed. He tried to live 
on less than a pound a week, and he removed to 
a still cheaper lodging. One day he felt a curious 
pain, and he ran desperately to a doctor. " If I 
don't take care of myself," he said, " I may be 
unable to look for work at all, and then what will 
become of me ? " He went into the doctor's 
surgery, and sat down in the waiting-room to wait 
his turn. He fingered the pages of an old illus- 
trated paper that was lying on the table, and 
found himself getting confused over a picture of 
stalactites and stalagmites that some one had 
found in a fearful cave in Africa. " Queer 
things," he was muttering to himself, when the 
doctor summoned him to him. . . . 

He came out of the surgery with a smile on his 
face. The lines about his mouth and eyes seemed 
to have been rolled out. His nervousness and 
alarm had gone, and in their place was calm. He 


glanced about him fearlessly, and when he said 
" Good-day " to the doctor, he said it jauntily. 

" Plucky chap, that ! " said the doctor, as he 
shut the door behind him. 

" Thank God ! " said Mr. Timms, " Oh, thank 
God, I'm safe now ! " 

And in three months he was dead. 

Printed by 
Ballantyne & Company 
London ^^° 



Santa Barbara 


Series 9482 


A A 001 409 826 3